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Months after abruptly cutting his own NHL season short last April, Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin talked openly and candidly about his mental health and his reasons for shutting it down.
In his first public comments addressing his leave of absence, Drouin told TSN/RDS that he's dealt with anxiety problems and insomnia relating to his anxiety for "many years" before detailing the emotional "wall" he hit on a road trip out west that caused him to walk away.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) September 20, 2021
"You know that week in Calgary where we played three games, I missed all three of them and I wasn't feeling good — that was where it hit a wall for me and it was time to step away from the game and literally take a step back from everything and enjoy life. I needed it — it's hard for me to do at that time, and obviously playoffs were coming around.
The former third overall pick ended up having to watch his teammates go on a magical postseason run without him, as the Canadiens knocked out the Maple Leafs, Jets and Golden Knights before losing in the Cup final to Tampa in five games.
Still, Drouin says he has absolutely no regrets over how he handled things and is proud of how he prioritized his mental health over everything when he was struggling.
"It wasn't an easy thing to do, and I'm proud of what I've done and I'm happy I did it. I'm 26 years old so I wanted to do it at that point in my career and feel good for the next years," Drouin said.
"It's hard to step away and watch all the guys. But at that time, I made my decision and stuck with it."
Drouin is expected to be with the Canadiens from Day 1 of training camp while playing an important role in Montreal's top-six — potentially even at centre after the off-season departure of Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
The former Halifax Mooseheads standout has tallied 69 goals and 232 points in 393 NHL games with the Lightning and Canadiens.
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