The Tampa Bay Lightning announced Monday that they have lifted the suspension of 20-year-old forward Jonathan Drouin. The lifting of his suspension comes in response to Drouin and agent Allan Walsh announcing that Drouin will report to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL.
A release from the team states that they expect Drouin to be at his first practice Tuesday.
While this spells an end for the high-drama stand-off between Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and Drouin, the opera has not yet reached its conclusion.
Reporting to the Crunch will not rescind that Drouin and Walsh have publicly demanded a trade out of the organization. However, their gambit of refusing to play until a trade is made has not paid off. It’s become clear that returning to the team is Drouin’s best path toward playing for another team next season.
Saying that there was a trade looming and he didn’t want to get hurt, Drouin has refused to play for the Crunch since he last played on Jan. 18, the last of seven AHL matches that saw him post two goals and an assist.
The stalemate reached its apex at the trade deadline, when it was assumed that Yzerman would move Drouin. Yzerman repeatedly said he wouldn’t have his hand forced and he won’t make a trade that doesn’t benefit the team, just to honor the trade request.
He didn’t make a trade at the deadline.
Continuing to not play for Syracuse would mean sitting out from January to October for Drouin, who has been at home in Montreal.
That absence hurt Tampa’s ability to make a deal and Drouin’s ability to move on with his career. The Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith reported after the 3pm trade deadline passed on Feb. 29 that “not playing much recently was a concern to some teams” who had shown interest in Drouin. Getting back on the ice will allow him to show what he’s got and to regain the interest of some teams.
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Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.