MONTREAL - Jonathan Drouin has yet to play a regular season game with the Canadiens, but he's already made a mark on the city of Montreal.
Since being acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning in June, the Huberdeau, QC native has been clear about his desire to remain active in the Montreal community however he can.
On Tuesday, he turned those words into action with the announcement of a $500,000 donation over a 10-year period to the Fondation du Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM). As well, starting in 2018, Drouin has personally pledged to raise five million dollars through various charitable activities in which he will be involved.
"They approached me. My agent spoke to me about it. I saw Ryan Callahan do things like this in Tampa. He would often go to the hospitals to see the children and that touched me. When I was traded here, I told my agent I wanted to make a donation or help a hospital," explained the new ambassador to the Fondation du CHUM. "So when they approached us, it was easy to say yes.
"I'm from here, I'm a Quebecer. My life has changed since the trade. For me, doing things like this is really easy. I love getting involved, you'll see," he continued. "It's good for me, but it's also good for the kids. When you walk around in the hospitals and you see people who are happy to see you, it's really made me want to continue doing it."
Video: Jonathan Drouin on his pledge to CHUM
In addition to his financial contribution, Drouin will also be personally involved with the CHUM Foundation whenever his work schedule allows it. Despite his young age, the 22-year-old is conscious of the standard public figures can help set by giving back.
Among the people Drouin will be working with at the Fondation du CHUM is former Habs player and general manager Serge Savard, who is on the board of the Foundation's "Giving Ourselves the Best in Health Care" capital campaign. Himself a former Canadiens star, the Hall of Famer knows how much of a benefit it is to have No. 92 on board.
"I am extremely happy to have Jonathan join us. We are privileged as hockey players, but there's a price that comes with being a professional athlete - especially in Montreal. When young people watch Jonathan, they're going to see him as a role model, especially with the grand gesture he's made today," outlined Mr. Savard. "In my day, this was something that was passed down to us from the likes of Jean Beliveau. I'm going to be there to stand alongside Jonathan in the years to come to help him reach his goal."
In just a few months, Drouin has impressed many different people for many different reasons, whether it be for his dedication to his training or his availability for various public appearances. But the fact that he is taking things to another level with this partnership shows how seriously Drouin is taking his new role, and how he is embodying the values of the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge.
"It's all about Jo. He deserves this praise. He's only been with this organization for a couple months, he's never even put on a real jersey for a real game at the Bell Centre and he's already doing a contribution like this," indicated captain Max Pacioretty, who attended the press conference to lend his support. "He's a kid from the area who understands the importance of giving back and understands the culture of what the Montreal Canadiens are all about. He has such a good grip on things and he's willing to do what he's doing today."