Montreal Canadiens fans are well-known for two things.
They’re quick to voice their appreciation or displeasure when something exciting happens on the ice, which is why they’re recognized as the most boisterous fanbase. It also explains why the Bell Centre is celebrated as the arena in the NHL with the best atmosphere.
Habs fans are also understood to recognize a player’s impact during his time with the franchise, regardless of how the player left the team.
That was the case on Monday night when former Hab Jonathan Drouin visited his former team for the first time since joining the high-flying Colorado Avalanche.
The Canadiens held a video tribute for Drouin during a first-period intermission, which led to a heartwarming ovation from the Bell Centre faithful.
The fans then proceeded to boo him once the ovation was over and play resumed, a sign of respect in Montreal when discussing star players.
Drouin, 28, spent six seasons with the Canadiens. He scored 64 goals and 138 assists in 321 games with the Habs.
He was originally acquired in a trade that saw top defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev join the Tampa Bay Lightning. And while Drouin never quite reached the superstar status that some expected, you’d be hard-pressed to argue he wasn’t set up to fail from the very get-go.
Not only was he sold as a French-Canadian saviour for the offensively-starved Canadiens, but he was also switched to the middle of the ice upon his arrival to Montreal in a desperate attempt to fix the longstanding issue with the team’s lack of talented centres.
It never worked out, and Drouin served as a secondary source of offence rather than someone who could drive the play every night. He delivered the type of impact you would expect for a forward who was paid roughly $5 million per season, but the oversell by Marc Bergevin, the general manager who acquired Drouin in the first place, meant that fan the expectations were far from realistic.