Honesty isn’t always the best policy.
And that was the case when Montreal Canadiens’ head coach Dominique Ducharme threw forward Jonathan Drouin under the bus for refusing to play.
He told reporters after Sunday’s loss to the Boston Bruins that Drouin was given the green light to play but was choosing not to.
It’s obvious that the team needs him now more than ever. Injuries are piling up and the latest offensive player out with an injury is Mike Hoffman. But ratting Drouin out to the media as a pressure tactic only puts a bullseye on a player who is constantly picked on and used as a scapegoat.
When the Montreal Canadiens are playing poorly, fans are quick to sharpen their knives and always have their pitchforks ready. Drouin is target number one.
The coach is feeling the heat. In most games his team can’t muster up more than two goals. Drouin was off to a decent start to the season with seven points in 11 games. At the time of the injury, he was leading the team in scoring. It must be frustrating thinking a player could play but is deciding not to.
Making it public benefits nobody. If Drouin comes back before he feels ready, you’re not going to see the best version of the player. He’ll also be bombarded with questions as to why he wasn’t in the lineup earlier.
It doesn’t paint Drouin in a positive light to his teammates either. It’s clear that others are battling through injuries and giving everything they have on a nightly basis. Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher are hurt and have been game time decisions. Gallagher has only missed one game before making a miraculous “recovery,” and Petry hasn’t missed a game. They aren’t the only ones. How do you think those players feel knowing there’s another guy choosing not to play when deemed healthy by the medical staff?
Ducharme should know how to deal with Drouin better than anyone else. He’s coached the player for three seasons at the Junior level and for four seasons as a head coach or an assistant at the professional level. That’s a long history, so it doesn’t make sense to suddenly draw a line in the sand.
The Canadiens’ talented forward was forthcoming when speaking about his struggles with anxiety and insomnia. Making it feel like it’s him against the world, is ill advised. Although Drouin was never diagnosed with a concussion, he’s been complaining that his head hurts. Why even consider taking a chance if he doesn’t feel right? The player knows his body better than anyone else.
Drouin hasn’t played since being struck in the head by a Brett Kulak point shot on Nov. 2 against the Detroit Red Wings. It does look like he will play tomorrow night against the New York Rangers.
Perhaps anyone who is critical of Drouin’s decision not to play, should take an NHL shot off the head before coming to their judgment.