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Stéphane Waite confirms that the Montreal pressure was too much for Jonathan Drouin
Credit: What a start to the season!

Losing to the Sharks – the worst team in the entire NHL – in front of your fans…

After being completely washed out by the Sabres in your own amphitheatre…

But still being able to pick up a point against Connor McDavid and the Oilers a few days later…

Then, to get the better of Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche…

That’s the Habs for you: a bipolar team capable of both the best and the worst. A team that, on certain nights, shows a desire to fight to the death, 48 hours after looking like a palliative care patient.

So it’s impossible to be surprised when you see this same team’s supporters acting in such opposite ways from one night to the next. What can I say? From one minute to the next.

Yesterday’s game marked Jonathan Drouin’s return to Montreal. After spending six seasons in a Habs uniform, the Quebec forward, acquired in return for Mikhail Sergachev, decided to sign a contract (close to the minimum salary allowed by the collective agreement) with his good friend Nathan MacKinnon’s Avalanche.

For the past few weeks, Drouin has been one of the three forwards in the NHL’s best trio… a unit that looks like it plays in a league (that doesn’t exist) superior to the NHL, according to the Maple Leafs’ coach. Nothing less!

Drouin has been averaging over a point a game for over a month now, and is also one of the most used forwards in the entire league night after night. Yesterday, he spent more than 27 minutes (out of 60) on the ice. Wow!

Last night, fans of the somewhat emotionally vacillating Habs showed themselves to be quite emotionally vacillating too. Partisan bipolarity still exists at the Bell Centre. Fans will always be like their team, right?

Jonathan Drouin was booed at the start of the game…

Then applause when Michel Lacroix announced his assist on the game’s first goal.

The booing resumed a few minutes later…

But Drouin received a standing ovation from fans and players of both teams during a commercial break, as the Habs presented a short video tribute to the Avalanche’s #27.

But you guessed it: when play resumed, Drouin was booed again as soon as he touched the puck.

To say he went through every emotional range is an understatement. All he needed was a win and a post-game star for someone to write a book in a single evening…

I expected worse,” said the Quebecer with a smile. I’d already experienced it when other old-timers came back here during my six seasons with the Canadiens. I talked about it with Lehkonen, who got the same treatment when he returned to Montreal with the Avalanche. If a guy as good as Lekky can be booed, it’s going to happen to anyone. And since I’d already been booed when I played here, I certainly expected it.”Jonathan Drouin, who expected worse

It’s worth noting that the booing of Drouin was in no way malicious. Connor Bedard, Connor McDavid and other NHL greats are booed in Montreal. It’s almost a sign of respect.

Except that yesterday, the best players weren’t the stars of the other side; they were wearing red uniforms. Suzuki, Caufield and Slafkovsky were able to muzzle the best trio on the Bettman circuit… with the help of the third trio of Harvey-Pinard, Armia and Evans, of course.

Back to the Canadiens and their fans…

I don’t mind believing that a group of fans is far from a homogeneous sample, but you have to admit that going from booing to ovation in the space of a few seconds is quite something.

But then again, we did it a year and a half ago with Slafkovsky’s selection (in front of Shane Wright) at the Bell Centre… and quite a few fans also experienced this emotion internally when Carey Price introduced David something rather than Matvei Michkov last summer.

I guess that’s passion…

A passion that scares many athletes when it’s time to store around for a new team and a new city. You get what you deserve, they say.

In brief

– While we’re on the subject of Jonathan Drouin, it’s worth noting that the main player involved talks about his wrist injury to explain the huge difference between his performance in his first three years and his last three in Montreal.

– Will Sheldon Keefe still have a job in two weeks’ time?

– Eddie Hearn, Callum Smith’s promoter, compared Artur Beterbiev to someone “not human”.

– Has Montreal CF (finally) found its new top striker?

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