Drouin's antics have exposed the hockey world yet again with lockout-esque humdrum in the media. Now the US vs. THEM attitude has people once against pinning PLAYERS against OWNERS.
Who is right? Who isn't? Let's take sides!
But just like the lockout, this has absolutely nothing to do with players vs. owners. It has everything to do with player agents vs. general managers. It's not Drouin versus some faceless billionaire who only gets satisfaction if he reads about himself in Forbes magazine; it's Adam Walsh, who wants Drouin to make money so that he can make money with his cunning, vs. Steve Yzerman, whose job is to make the Tampa Bay franchise healthy and competitive.
This is a chess match. Drouin has value, Yzerman is trying to maximize it, and Walsh is trying to tap into Drouin's financial value (and won't be able to do that if Drouin is swimming on a two-way contract in the minors). So, as you would guess, the agent wants his player in the NHL so that he can make more money. Because he truly cares about Jonathan Drouin!... ... ...'s wallet.
So Yzerman and Walsh play a tug of war with Drouin. Yzerman wants Drouin to honour the process--not because the faceless owner wants to use his evil iron fist to stifle this guy's career--but because he's moving a former third overall pick and he needs to be able to levy this bad situation into a possible opportunity to make his team better.
Drouin honoured the process for the first half of the season, but as the situation drags out, Walsh starts whispering over Drouin's shoulder and says, "You will not die, for God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened!"... sorry, wrong line... "Is he really going to trade you or is he trying to manipulate you so that you can develop according to his beloved Detroit model?"
Finally Drouin breaks and stomps his feet, and asks Yzerman to hearken to his demand. Walsh's play here is that if Drouin acts like a spoiled brat, it will diminish his value and Yzerman will be forced to move him now rather than at much lower value later (ie, at draft or trade deadline). Now it's Yzerman's play.
Walsh knows full well what he's doing: it's a tactic to force Yzerman's hand because he knows what Yzerman wants out of the situation.
I think Yzerman was going to honour the trade, but he was waiting for the draft to trade Drouin because that's when he would have had the most value, especially if he did well for Yzerman in the playoffs (the AHL or NHL playoffs).
Now we can get into what either side should have done. Yzerman should have sorted out Stamkos in the summer but he didn't, and now that's a ticking time bomb. Yzerman should have sorted out the Drouin situation as soon as possible, but now Drouin's camp just blew up in his face.
But it's about what he does now...
So NOW Yzerman suspends Drouin. Of course he does. If Walsh gets away with this play, this adds a new play to the playbook of all those other greedy player agents out there who are trying to earn a dime while taxing the NHL salary infrastructure and inevitably leading the NHL into more and more lockouts.
Do you think a trade is coming? Yzerman now has to make a choice: move Drouin at 60% value now or probably at 50% in the summer and fight for a principle.
But hockey's a capitalist market... principle is a dying thing in it. Yzerman will probably cave by the deadline. And player agents will win again. And for each of these victories increases the chance that the NHL goes to its next lockout.