A tense situation has gone from boiling to radioactive Wednesday, when the Tampa Bay Lightning announced that they were suspending 20-year-old forward Jonathan Drouin indefinitely, without pay. The team announced via press release that Drouin failed “to report for [Wednesday’s] game between the Syracuse Crunch and the Toronto Marlies.”
The statement was short and said that the Lightning and general manager Steve Yzerman will make no further comment on the situation.
Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh announced on January 3 that the 2013 third overall draft pick requested a trade from the team back in November. That announcement came one day after Drouin, who was just coming off an injury, was reassigned to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL.
Since then he’s been the epicenter of trade rumors, with trade reports coming out almost daily and a laundry list of NHL scouts at every Crunch game. He opened his time with the Crunch by scoring two goals in the first period of his first game.
In the six games since then he has no goals and a single assist.
Following the Lightning’s public announcement of the suspension, Walsh offered a statement of his own:
When the Tampa Bay Lightning assigned Jonathan Drouin to Syracuse it was explained the purpose of the assignment was twofold; (1) conditioning due to missed games from injury and (2) provide proof that he had completely recovered from his injury. Jonathan has now played seven games with Syracuse in the past (14) days.
A few days ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning advised that a trade involving Jonathan was moving closer to completion. We proposed to Tampa that Jonathan not play in the next few AHL games but continue practicing with the club to avoid any potential injury from Preventing an imminent trade. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning refused this reasonable request, however, Jonathan was not willing to accept this risk. We have been advised that the Tampa Bay Lightning has suspended Jonathan.
In light of the latest developments it is clearly in both sides best interests that the Tampa Bay Lightning trade Jonathan as there is no reason for Jonathan to continue with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization in any capacity. We will have no further comment as we await the Tampa Bay Lightning to conclude a trade that involves Jonathan.
Drouin took part in morning skate Wednesday, but was not out for the pregame warm-up, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Additionally, Elliotte Friedman says that Drouin is at the rink with the rest of the scratches for the game. That seems to go along with Walsh’s statement that they suggested Drouin practice but not play. His refusal to report, causing the suspension, may not have been staying home, but following through on Walsh’s plan and still trying to remain a part of the team.
This all comes just two days after an article by Joe Yerdon at NHL.com had Drouin saying, “I came down here to work on my game and make sure I work on the little details. If the points go in, they go in; if they don’t, they don’t. It’s not really what my focus is on; I just want to play my game.”
Talking about the potential trade he said, “I don’t control anything. Whenever it happens, it happens, and we’ll just go from there.”
Despite all of this, there is no guarantee that movement happens any time soon. The Lightning stand to benefit fro getting a player who can help the team right now, but they were already playing without Drouin prior to this.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.