FORT WAYNE – The summer dragged on for left wing P.C. Drouin. There was a lot of time spent thinking about the disappointments of last season – both for himself and the Komets – and much work put in to try and improve.
So he was eager for the start of training camp this week.
I’ve been waiting for this for a while, to start the redemption, said Drouin, 37.
In 61 games last season, Drouin had 14 goals, 39 assists and 44 points. All were the lowest totals of his seven seasons with the Komets. There was speculation he wouldn’t be brought back, even though he had another season remaining on a two-year contract.
But Drouin wasn’t the only one who had a down season. After winning three straight IHL championships, the Komets were in the CHL’s cellar until February, finished the regular season 31-27-8 and were eliminated in the Turner Conference semifinals by Rapid City.
We had such a bad start, it was hard to recover from that, Drouin said. Although, we did in the latter part of the season, it still wasn’t the results we expected. We want to be challenging for a title – not just in the playoffs, but in the regular season, too. That’s going to be our goal again. That’s always been our goal. It’s just disappointing we couldn’t come close to achieving that last season.
Drouin is among 29 players vying for about 20 roster spots. There will be exhibition games Friday at Dayton and Sunday at Memorial Coliseum against the Gems for coach Al Sims to try and figure out who belongs.
It has been stressed to Drouin that no one is guaranteed a job.
That’s what I’ve been told, so that’s what I’m going by, Drouin said. I’m really going to try to have a good start and show what I can do again, and show that last year was an anomaly. I’m thinking this will be my last season, so I want to be successful for myself and for the team.
Excluding Tab Lardner, who split time between Fort Wayne and Missouri, Drouin still tied for the Komets’ point-scoring lead last season. And in the playoffs, he had five goals and nine points in eight games.
I had a rough start (last season) and it mentally kind of grinded on me, Drouin said. I felt like I had a pretty decent playoffs but still not up to my standards and not up to what I want to do and what I want to go out with.
So how did Drouin prepare this summer for redemption?
I barely took a break from working out, he said. I think I took two weeks off and then I was right back in the gym, working out hard. And I skated more in the summer more than I ever have, probably. As far as skating shape goes, I’m probably in better shape than I’ve been since I was in an NHL camp 14 or 15 years ago.