Captain Steven Stamkos has dominated the media of late with speculation from the media and General Manager Steve Yzerman issuing a collective "shut up, I'm not going there" statement yesterday. With #91 being the focus of attention lately, the plight of AWOL Jonathan Drouin has fallen by the wayside for the most part. The league had given chasing Drouin (and listening to the bombast of his agent, Allan Walsh) the girth of its attention since Walsh broke the news that Drouin wanted out of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.
So is there anything of note regarding Drouin out there, like whispers and rumors about teams that are courting Steve Yzerman in hopes to acquire the disconnected and sought after forward? Not exactly. There was something of note to pass (yesterday) in reflection on the Tampa Bay Lightning's back-to-back jaunt through Eastern Canada last week. From TSN's Frank Seravalli:
One interesting note from hanging around Tampa Bay last week: players would welcome Jonathan Drouin back with open arms. That ship has sailed, with Drouin divorcing himself from the Lightning as he awaits a trade, but there aren't any hard feelings lingering within that room. One player said he wished Tampa Bay had more time in Montreal last week (the Lightning were playing back-to-back games) so a group could sit down with Drouin to try and coax him into coming back. The message: "You have a chance to really be a part of something special here."
(Stick tap to Bolt Prospects for tweeting this out)
Colleagues and peer support is sound and shouldn't be faulted except in certain instances that aren't exactly seen here. What is seen is that reconciliation can happen in the Lightning locker room and they (the players) would work for it. That's something commendable for a team: Working together to build up the unit and settle issues and strengthen cohesion.
One thing that Seravalli gets wrong, or at least is considered wrong, is how the "ship has sailed" and the concept of Drouin returning to the Lightning can't happen... At least it's wrong from the Tampa Bay perspective. Yzerman stated that his door is open to talks with the young forward, though that statement can be lost pretty easy in the overall positioning of the article to frame out Yzerman's remarks that priorities of the Lightning are his thing, not satisfying the wants of Drouin and Walsh.
That open door contrasts the "ship has sailed" remark, don't it? If Octagon Hockey (the agency run by Walsh) and Drouin have a hard-line stance of getting out of Tampa Bay, that's one thing. In some lights it's arguable that Drouin has disconnected himself from the locker room he's been a part of and his next destination was all that mattered.
The whole concept of reunification isn't something that Lightning fans are hoping for. Much like Yzerman has said since this whole situation came to a head, the focus is on the Tampa Bay Lightning professional hockey club and what's best for the team on a professional and competitive level. The drama playing out with Allan Walsh's attention grab was not of that variety. Not nearly. Where things went from there did not help and it's understandable that fans got disgruntled and hostility roared with the walk-out in Syracuse. Between those actions from Octagon Hockey and Drouin himself to the bulk of those who would be watching him in person at 401 Channelside Drive, the ship had indeed sailed.
The port is still open though, at least from past statements from Yzerman.
Who knows, Drouin could be dealt by the time you read this... Or he could be on a flight to Tampa, or might be sitting at home still waiting... If there aren't hard feelings among the Bolts for Drouin and an understanding of the whole process of becoming over the perception of entitlement can be reached, Drouin might not be done with the Lightning. That's a challenge on both sides.