Without regret or hard feelings, Jonathan Drouin needed a “fresh start”, and no one will be surprised to learn that.

Although “things were going really well with Martin [St-Louis]”, he “still had butterflies when he entered the Bell Center ice rink”, and he said he was “lucky to have played in Montreal for six years Drouin needed a change of scenery.

His decision to end his Montreal chapter was made “a few days before” the opening of the free agent market, explained the Quebecer during his first media availability as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, Monday noon .

“Kent [Hughes] and Jeff Gorton have been super nice to me for the past two years. We made a decision… I decided to go somewhere else. […] Montreal has been a bit difficult in recent years, there have been many ups and downs. I needed a fresh start,” the 28-year-old forward calmly summed up.

No one is unaware that Drouin’s time in Montreal has been tumultuous, between injuries and anxiety disorders that forced him to miss the end of the 2021 season. Not to mention the many harsh comments from certain partisans towards him, who have never really stopped for a few years.

But despite all that, Drouin “wouldn’t change much about what happened” in the past six years. “It happened for a reason,” he wisely reasoned.

An English expression is that it is better to defeat your detractors with kindness [kill them with kindness]. That’s kind of what the Laurentians winger did, not skimping on the compliments for the Habs on Monday.

“I’m never going to tell a Quebecer not to come and play in Montreal,” he blurted out.

“When I arrived in Montreal, I thought I knew what to expect. Everyone will tell you: when you’re a Quebecer in Montreal, you can’t really know what to expect. It’s a place where there’s a lot of pressure, a lot of negative things, but there’s also a lot of positives if you’re able to put things aside. »

“I had some great times in Montreal. […] I met some really nice people. I think I’ve grown as a person too since my freshman year. »

While this was Jonathan Drouin’s first time testing the free agent market in his career, the process was “pretty easy.” His text exchanges with Nathan MacKinnon, his former teammate with the Halifax Mooseheads, simplified his decision.

“I definitely had Colorado on my radar. I was hoping we could find some common ground. I was really lucky. »

Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland has said in recent days that MacKinnon “definitely [was] an honorary member of the recruiting department” in the decision to bring Drouin to Colorado.

“To get a message from [Nathan] at this point in my career, that’s something I was looking forward to,” Drouin said. Not just Nate, but everyone in Colorado. This is a great opportunity for me in a good team. »

Fit “mentally and physically,” Drouin seemed genuinely excited about the new challenge ahead. His one-year contract, which will nevertheless bring him much less money than his previous six-year contract, will be an opportunity for him to regain his offensive touch.

“I’m open to helping [the Avalanche] in any way. I want to try to find my game. I know she is there. It’s just a matter of trust. »

The forward expects to have to adjust to the altitude and speed of Avalanche play, and he’s already taken action on that. “I’m training a lot this summer to make sure I’m ready for it. »

As he aptly put it, “I’ve already put Montreal behind me. I think of the future. »