Jonathan Drouin has played well since returning to the Syracuse Crunch after a nearly two-month absence from the team following his walkout from the AHL club, but he’s being watched closely and Wednesday he made a mistake that cost him his spot in the lineup.
Drouin, 20, was given a one-game team-imposed suspension — more accurately, he was a healthy scratch — after he missed a team meeting Tuesday. Drouin told Syracuse.com’s Lindsay Kramer that he overslept after his alarm didn’t go off, which caused him to miss a team meeting Tuesday morning before practice. Drouin participated in the Tuesday skate, but Wednesday’s game came and went without Drouin in the lineup.
"I've got to live with the consequences," Drouin told Kramer, adding that he would make up the error to his teammates.
While the mistake by Drouin and healthy scratch may raise some eyebrows, Lightning assistant GM Julien BriseBois, who is responsible for the Crunch, said it could have happened to anyone and it won’t have lasting implications for Drouin.
"Jo's been the consummate professional since he's been here," BriseBois told Kramer. "Unfortunately, this is a hiccup that brings consequences. It's happened to other guys before on all sorts of teams. Long-term we do not believe this will have any impact on his career. This by no means changes what we think of Jo as a player or a person and we look forward to continuing to work with him."
Drouin has scored five goals and six points in six outings since returning to the Crunch. There are no signs Drouin will be recalled before the campaign is through, but Lightning GM Steve Yzerman didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing the second-year winger into the lineup come the post-season.
Drouin left the Crunch in mid-January after his request for a trade from the Lightning, with whom it appeared Drouin believed he had no future, had gone unfulfilled. Drouin was suspended by the Lightning after failing to report to a contest against the Toronto Marlies, and he didn’t ask to return to Syracuse until after the trade deadline.