Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jones: Drouin's heel turn a dumb move

Jonathan Drouin has been limited to 19 games with the Lightning this season because of injuries. He has two goals and six assists. In 89 career NHL games, he has six goals and 34 assists.


Jonathan Drouin has been limited to 19 games with the Lightning this season because of injuries. He has two goals and six assists. In 89 career NHL games, he has six goals and 34 assists.

Jonathan Drouin seems like a good kid. And one day he might turn out to be a good NHL player.

But Wednesday, he made a really bad mistake.

He quit on the Lightning.

Well, technically he quit on the Lightning's minor-league affiliate in Syracuse by refusing to show up for a game. He wants to be traded and wants nothing to do with the Lightning ever again.

The third overall pick in the 2013 draft, likely acting on the advice of adults who should know better, messed up big time.

It's one thing to ask for a trade from an organization that you don't think is treating you fairly. It's quite another to take your stick and go home and hold your breath and stomp your feet until you get your way.

Any sympathy Drouin might have had vanished Wednesday night.

No longer is he thought of as a future star who isn't getting his chance, but as a spoiled brat who doesn't want to put in a little sweat. No longer is he the misunderstood youngster who hasn't gotten a fair shake, but a self-entitled high draft pick who wants everything handed to him.

Drouin already had come off as petulant when it was learned he asked for a trade two months ago even though he hasn't done a whole lot at the NHL level to demand anything. But now, with this latest stunt, he comes off much worse.

Quite frankly, if I'm the Lightning, I'm not sure I'd even want him anymore. But at the same time, if I'm the Lightning, I'd think about letting him sit at home just to the send the message that it isn't about to give in to the demands of some snot-nosed hockey player who thinks he should be playing ahead of a bunch of players good enough to reach the Stanley Cup final last season.

The point that Drouin's agent, Allan Walsh, seems to be making is that Drouin doesn't want to risk injury and jeopardize a trade by playing in any more AHL games. But nothing jeopardizes a trade quite like a player who comes off as high maintenance, a player who is considered a head case, a player who now has the reputation of one who would rather whine than go to work. Who wants a player who starts complaining and stops playing the first time a coach gives him a funny eye or scratches him from the lineup?

And there's this: One of the last people you want to get into a spitting match with is Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who is one of the most respected hockey men in the history of the game. Drouin versus Yzerman. Who ya got?

Certainly, teams are out there that are still willing to trade for Drouin. He has a world of potential. But, if anything, Drouin's trade value just went down. Even if Yzerman was ready to give in to Drouin's trade request, his job just got more difficult.

However, unless Yzerman can work some magic, it appears this situation cannot be salvaged and the only solution is to trade Drouin. The problems now run too deep, and at the heart of it is the relationship between Drouin and coach Jon Cooper.

The feeling is that Cooper isn't a fan of what he perceives to be Drouin's one-dimensional game and because of that has been especially hard on Drouin. It would appear that Cooper wants Drouin to play with more grit and, especially, more detail to defense though Drouin has, in spurts, shown elite skills that should make up for his lack of toughness or defensive prowess.

Hey, you don't draft someone third overall to backcheck, right?

Though some might argue that Cooper hasn't done enough to work with Drouin, it also should be noted that Cooper and the Lightning organization do not have a reputation for stifling young players. If anything, their reputation is the opposite when you think of current stars Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Vladislav Namestnikov, just a few of the young players who have thrived in the minors and the NHL under Cooper.

Then again, that's a point of contention, too. The feeling among some is that Cooper favors the young players who, like him, have worked their way up to the NHL after putting in significant minor-league miles, something Drouin has never done. In other words, Drouin isn't one of Cooper's Boys, like Johnson and the rest.

But I just have to believe that Cooper is like any coach, that he would play anyone good enough to help him win games. Has Cooper been extra hard on Drouin? Maybe.

But is it the worst thing in the world to spend some time in the minors developing your game? Drouin went down to the minors and has played seven games. No one expected him to be happy, but everything was moving along just fine. From all accounts, he was doing his job, working hard, getting along with teammates and coaches, doing his best and playing well.

That was the exact way to handle this business, because one of two things was going to eventually happen. He was either going to play well enough to be recalled by the Lightning or he was going to play well enough for another NHL team to trade for him. Either way, he was going to get his way. It was the smart move.

Wednesday was the dumb move.

Jones: Drouin's heel turn a dumb move 01/20/16 [Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2016 12:09am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: An up-and down day for Jose De Leon


    Rays RHP Jose De Leon had a busy Monday - getting called up to join the Rays for the first time and making his way from Pawtucket, R.I., to Boston and the flying to Texas, working 2 2/3 eventful innings to get the W in the 10-8 victory over the Rangers, and then getting optioned back to Triple-A.

    Jose De Leon follows through in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on May 29, 2017.
  2. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  3. Four key games that could decide Bucs' success in 2017


    The Bucs finished so close to making the playoffs in 2016 -- literally flip-flop the last two results and have them beat the Saints and lose to the Panthers and they're in as a wild card with the same 9-7 record -- that it's difficult to say with any certainty what will happen in the 2017 season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, shown celebrating a touchdown against the Giants in 2015, will face New York again this fall in Week 4 in Tampa.
  4. Frank Deford wrote with sincerity, giving depth to complicated sports figures

    Human Interest

    Frank Deford practically invented the notion of multimedia: He exported his voice to radio, TV and film, and if you didn't know him you might have thought he was an actor, because he wore purple suits and looked like Clark Gable. But Frank, who died Sunday at age 78, was a writer above all things, and an important …

    In a 1991 photo, Frank Deford holds a proof of The National Sports Daily, of which he was editor and publisher [Associated Press]
  5. Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire


    After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.

    SEC flags outside the hotel of last year's spring meetings in Destin. This year's meetings could have a huge impact on the Florida Gators' season.