When it comes to homecoming, you knew this was going to be a complicated one. Wing Jonathan Drouin is back, set to face the Lightning Thursday for the first time since getting sent to his hometown Canadiens in the June blockbuster deal that landed defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. Here's our story on Sergachev blossoming on and off the ice in Tampa. Drouin, 22, was the Lightning's No. 3 overall pick in 2013, and one of the most dynamic young players in team history. He was a postseason hero in the 2015-16 run to the Eastern Conference Final. But his tenure in Tampa Bay wasn't short on drama, Drouin requesting a trade from the Lightning in January 2016, then leaving AHL Syracuse in a holdout. Needless to say, there's not expected to be a video tribute on the Amalie Arena scoreboard, like there was for Ben Bishop earlier this season. So when Drouin was asked Wednesday what kind of reception he expected from Lightning fans, you could hear the chuckle through the phone. "It's going to be mixed, like a lot of trades," Drouin told the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday. "Some people obviously still like me, and some people didn't like what I did. That's just normal, and part of what happened in Tampa. No matter what happens tomorrow, I'll have a lot of respect for the city and the fans and the team." Drouin chatted with the Times via phone Wednesday afternoon from Raleigh,where the Canadiens were playing the Hurricanes. Props to Drouin for taking the time on a gameday, the first of a back to back. Here's an excerpt of our conversation: What are the emotions in coming back and playing in Tampa for the first time? "It's going to be weird at first, like every trade. It'll be a little different. But at the same time, it's still very cool to come back. Lot of good memories there. Going to be very cool to jump on the ice on the other side." When you got the news of the trade to your hometown Canadiens, you called it a "dream come true." Has the experience lived up to that? "Yes, to this day it's still the same. Coming back, the trade was a dream come true. It's my hometown, it's where I watched pretty much all my hockey when I was young. When I go to the Bell Centre and put that jersey on, it's still a special moment. It's a really cool moment to play in Montreal. And I just enjoy the whole thing."
Drouin says he has no regrets from time with Lightning ahead of return
Tampa Bay Times | Dec 28