Jonathan Drouin made his return to the AHL Friday night, his first appearance since ending his holdout.
Drouin’s Syracuse Crunch beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 5-2 and he recorded an assist on Luke Witkowski’s second period goal. Reviews of Drouin’s performance were generally positive.
Drouin added three shots on goal.
It was his first game back in professional hockey since Jan. 18. The following game in Toronto, he refused to report to the Crunch, which led to a suspension from the parent club Tampa Bay Lightning.
Around the NHL trade deadline, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman suggested the door was still open for Drouin to return to the club. Earlier this week Drouin ended his holdout, so the Lightning lifted the suspension.
“Sitting at home is not what I wanted to do. I want to play hockey, help the Crunch,” Drouin said upon his return. “I missed hockey sitting at home. Watching hockey on TV and all that stuff is not what you want to do. I’m happy to be back here and playing hockey.”
While he was suspended, Drouin returned home to Montreal and skated at Concordia University to stay in shape. He said he decided to return because he missed the game, and admitted it was difficult dealing with the public criticism of his decision.
Before the deadline, it was reported by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston that the Lightning were “working hard” to get a trade done with Drouin, but that ultimately the right package wasn’t offered. Despite Drouin’s missed time, he will burn a year off his entry-level contract.
Drouin, 20, was the third overall selection in the 2013 NHL Draft and has eight points in 19 NHL games this season.