Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin said Monday that his leave of absence from the team last season was due to anxiety and insomnia.
The 26-year-old Drouin told Canada-based RDS that he has issues with anxiety for several years and hit a breaking point before the third contest of a five-game road trip in April.
“When I first started feeling anxiety, it was difficult to go see someone or ask for help. I wasn’t able to recognize my problems or what was going on,” he explained. “It was really last year that it clicked. I went to get help, I went to surround myself with people so that now I know what’s going on, I can see the little moments that give me anxiety, so I’m much better equipped to handle it now than I was before.”
Drouin said he had gone three nights without sleep before deciding after a pregame skate in Calgary on April 23 that he couldn’t play that night. The team announced his leave of absence on April 28.
Drouin needed to deal with his mental health
“That’s where it hit a wall for me. It was time to step away from the game,” Drouin told RDS while discussing the situation publicly for the first time. “Literally take a step back from everything and enjoy life.
“It was hard for me to do at that time — obviously, the playoffs were coming around.”
Drouin didn’t return to the team during a season in which Montreal won three playoff series to reach the Stanley Cup before falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I’m proud of what I’ve done and I’m happy I did it,” Drouin said. “I’m 26 years old so I wanted to do that at that point in my career and feel good for the next years.”
Drouin had two goals and 21 assists in 44 games last season.
A first-round pick (third overall) by Tampa Bay in 2013, Drouin has 232 points (69 goals, 163 assists) in 393 games with the Lightning (2014-17) and Canadiens.
–Field Level Media