Hockey NHL

The Jonathan Drouin Debate: Relax, Chill Out

The Montreal Canadiens have placed forward Jonathan Drouin on long-term injury reserve. However, that is simply nothing more than a paper transaction to help the team work around the cap because the reality is that he’s not injured, but rather he’s taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team for personal reasons. Now, I’m not here to speculate about anything. The team has asked everyone to respect his privacy, and I think it’s only right we listen. All I will say is this; for an athlete to choose to step away from the game without any injuries, it’s usually a sign of something bigger going on behind very closed, and very private doors.  

Now, it’s no secret to anyone that I am a big fan of his. I say that not as a “look at me, I care about Jo I’m a good guy” kind of statement, but rather to explain that I’ve had a hard time putting words to paper on this subject. Human instinct is to try and stick up for someone you care about, regardless of the connection. Family, friends, favourite musician, favourite athlete, it really doesn’t matter. If someone speaks ill of someone you care about, there’s a certain “mother hen” instinct that kicks in. That being said, we really don’t know what he’s going through, and for me to sit here and start taking wild guesses as to why he’s stepped away, well, that would be doing the complete opposite of respecting his privacy.

Rather than guessing what his reasoning could be for stepping back, I’m going to address something that is bigger than this dumb sport. An issue that’s relevant in all sports markets, particularly the bigger ones, and an issue that’s all too familiar with too many players who have played for Montreal, and in particular, Jonathan Drouin. 

In short, it’s the inability many “fans” seem to have to disassociate sport from real life. How personal they take their team letting them down, and how personally they proceed to attack the athletes they think are to blame. 

Drouin was nearly all but doomed since the moment he was traded for. In the eyes of many, it could only go one of two ways; he was either going to turn this franchise around and become the star they so desperately needed, or anything less and he’d be considered a disappointment.

While I will admit that his tenure in Montreal has not always been the smoothest and that he hasn’t always necessarily done himself any favours with his consistency, I’m not going to dive into his on-ice production because it really doesn’t carry any weight in this discussion. Some people are fans of his, some aren’t, and some find themselves in the middle. That’s all fine. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions. It’s one of the things that makes sports fascinating. We all get to interpret it differently, and then we all get to argue about it. That’s not the issue, the issue is the lack of respect many “fans” seem to show towards the athletes themselves. 

Being an athlete on a team like the Montreal Canadiens can be very unforgiving. It’s no secret. Nearly all former Habs, when given the chance, will admit that when the team’s doing well, and the city is happy, there is no better place to play in the league than Montreal but that just like every other big market in every other sport, when things start going south, you better buckle up because the critics come after you, and they come after you hard. 

Now, this is where the issues start to rise. I don’t know exactly how to write it so I’m just going to word vomit it; you can be mad at your team, you can be mad at a player, but you cannot be an assh*le about it. When I say assh*le, I’m not saying you can’t get mad. I’m not saying that you can’t express yourself. What I am saying though is that you cannot find them on social media and send them stupid insulting private messages. That you cannot comment stupid insulting garbage under their posts. That you cannot create whole pages dedicated to tearing someone down. That you cannot go on the radio and be downright disrespectful. Sports drive us crazy, I get it, and I don’t mean for that to sound condescending. All I’m saying is that speaking from experience, I know how emotionally overwhelming it can all become. That being said, there’s a line, a very clear line that literally has nothing to do with sports, and everything to do with being a decent human being, that should never be crossed.

Side bar, if you think that their paychecks somehow justify some of the nonsense they have to deal with, you can throw that argument out the window. While making a bunch of money may come with higher expectations, it most certainly does not mean you get free reign to literally bully them. 

I think one of most ridiculous arguments people try to use when justifying this kind of behaviour is the classic “oh, it comes with the territory” nonsense. Oh really? Does it? And this is coming from the same people who can’t handle it anytime someone in their life gets upset with them? You know, the same people who have 1 negative interaction at work and their day is ruined? 

If we’re being honest, it’s ridiculous that this even has to be brought up. Since we were children, we were taught (most of us at least) that you treat others with respect, and yet somehow, so many throw that concept out the window because the guy on the TV didn’t do what we wanted. 

As Carey Price, an athlete himself who is all too familiar with the feeling of having a fanbase turn on him, once said “Relax, chill out”. 

Look, this was really not meant to sound like a lecture, and I apologize if it does, but it’s absolutely absurd the way many think they can treat athletes and it’s about time people start growing up. So many people, some of whom find themselves in legitimate media jobs, will tear these guys down and will then stand there amazed that a big-name player picked another market over Montreal. Sure, you can make the weather argument, you can make the Canada versus US argument, heck you can even make the taxes argument (although many have explained how there are ways around that for guys who want to come north of the border) but there’s also a real good argument to be had about whether playing for a team like the Habs is worth the mental warfare. Are the highs worth the lows? I mean, maybe not for a lot of them.

6 comments

  1. Good article. All that the fans want is for the players to put an effort in each and every game. Gallagher is a classic example. Even when he is in a slump on the scoring sheets, he still tries his hardest. You very seldom see him take a shift off. I somehow doubt that many negative posts are directed towards him.

  2. I agree with your comments about bullying comments about any hockey player
    I disagree with your take or viewpoint that just because a player is making a lot of money it doesn’t give people the right to be very critical of that player
    I worked 42 years full time and years of part time and if you added up all the money that I made in my lifetime it wouldn’t compare to 6 months salary for Mr Price
    So if I think that he is playing like he doesn’t care about hockey or his team mates I am entitled to my opinion and if Mr Price or Mr Drouin don’t like negative comments they should get a real job and see what the World is all about
    Being a highly paid athlete comes with pros and cons
    A con is being held accountable to the people who pay his salary directly or indirectly
    If Mr Drouin was sincere about his leave of abscence he would donate his salary to charity until he decided to go back to his job!!!!

  3. Jonathan you are a great player (I am 76 and sean great play) all you have to do is find the fun you started with. Then play with your friends and with your talents you will succeed. Good luck.

  4. Great article. I’m always interested in the debate regarding rabid fans. While I 100% agree that personal attacks are not cool, I do wonder if professional sports people would rather play in an environment that cares (in a good and bad way) rather than an environment where nobody cares (Florida for example) I’m sure both sides of the coin have their attractions.

  5. You are so right in everything you wrote. It is sad how fans can be so rude and the next day love the players/ team. I am guilty of making comments too. And this put me in my place. I will never comment on my team. Other than you tried hard and we didn’t have the finish.

    Thank you your pos

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: