After a roller coaster six seasons in Montreal, Jonathan Drouin is preparing to return to the Bell Center next Monday in a Colorado Avalanche uniform.
In a generous interview with JiC, the striker said he was excited to return to the metropolis, having marked the date on his calendar a few weeks ago.
“I expect a little booing and a little applause. Every player who comes back to Montreal gets a few boos when he touches the puck, so I prepare myself for that a little bit,” an in-form Drouin commented to JiC.
The 28-year-old’s stay in Montreal was marked by several obstacles. Despite everything that has been said about him, Drouin has fond memories.
“I loved my six seasons in Montreal. There were ups and downs, it was a great place for me. I think the last two years have helped me develop my current game. I can’t wait to go back and have dinner with some CH players and my family will come watch the game. It’s going to be special, you tell yourself it’s a game like any other but it’s not like that. “I’ve been looking at the date since November.”
When asked about his tumultuous time in Montreal, the Avalanche player opened up candidly, although he finds it difficult to pinpoint a single reason.
“It’s hard to say just one thing, but there was a time when I was afraid of making mistakes. I didn’t feel comfortable with my game and I was thinking about too many things. In my first match I thought I was ready but that wasn’t the case. It took me years to understand (the pressure). But I think in the last two years, Martin St-Louis helped me a lot with all that, just playing hockey and not thinking about what people thought of me.
Now firmly rooted in Colorado, Drouin is actively involved in his team’s success. With a collection of 14 points in his last 14 games, the Quebecer likes to play on a team that aspires to great honors.
“The two teams are in two different places. When I came to Colorado, it wasn’t just about making the playoffs, the goals were bigger. But last year in Montreal was great to experience with a new coach and a new system. I think they did a great job with Hughes and Gorton. The team is going in the right direction, no one saw them there in qualifying,” Drouin told JiC, even admitting to having heard a few more press conferences from Martin St-Louis.
With 22 points in 40 games this season, the Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts native admits that adjusting to his new team at the start of the season was difficult.
“At first it was an adaptation. When you’ve been playing in a place for six years, you’re used to certain things. So it took me a little while, I would say the adaptation took me a month at first and I think I’ve made good progress since then.
“The coach trusts me now in situations where he didn’t trust me at first. Some players have been here a long time, so it’s normal for them to have more ice time. Now it’s up to me to continue giving more.”
It must be said that Drouin was not entirely disoriented when he arrived in Denver, as he was reunited with his former Halifax Mooseheads teammate, Nathan MacKinnon.
The former CH had several interesting offers on the table last summer, but the presence of his good friend in Colorado was enough for him.
“Nathan was the biggest factor (in my decision), but so was the team. When you look at the Avalanche, they have several elite players and the way he plays matches my speed. But it is certain that Nathan played an important role, we spoke often among ourselves during the free agent period.”
Before arriving at the Bell Center next Monday, the Avalanche will have to make a stop in Toronto on Saturday night to take on the Maple Leafs.