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Cloutier : The Day After

March 12, 2008, 10:33 PM ET [ Comments]

I have followed the reaction to Cloutier’s Vancouver Sun article. The responses vary but the following is a list that best represents what has been said:

• At 3.1 million per annum, shut up and play;
• Stop whining, rent a freakin’ apartment and he should let his play speak for itself;
• With 8 wins in two years, he has no credibility or right to speak;
• He threw the Kings under a bus;
• He is a stand-up guy who must have had legitimate reasons to make the statements he did;
• The Kings were awful before him and with him, it is an organizational thing – not a Cloutier thing;
• The Kings are at fault for their unprofessional treatment of Cloutier and should be held accountable;
• Cloutier must be telling the truth since he knows he took a risk by giving the interview;
• Don’t blame Cloutier for the bad contract they chose to offer him;
• Dan Cloutier got run by the Kings;
• Dan Cloutier is a passionate, stand up leader who is accountable for his mistakes.

There were other responses but that is a good representation of the various things I have read, heard or feedback given directly to me. In the interest of fairness, another article was done earlier this year to the Goalie News which mirror Cloutier’s recent interview. The Daily News’ Rich Hammond re-printed the article. Here are some excerpts:

"Whether demoting Cloutier was a good way to restore confidence – judging by his tone and statements he was feeling stronger mentally and physically every day in practice with the Kings, the answer appeared to be no – it’s hard to argue with Lombardi about Cloutier not being the same since the Kings “got him” from the Canucks last summer for two draft picks.

What Lombardi didn’t talk about was the role the Kings may have played in the erosion from three-straight 30-win seasons in Vancouver to a 6-14-2 record, 3.98 goals-against, and 86.0 save percentage in L.A.

The “injuries” Lombardi referred to was a hip labrum that tore in October but wasn’t operated on until December, by which time it was bone on bone. Cloutier accepts some blame for trying to play through an injury that basically made it impossible to push right to left in the butterfly, but two former Kings teammates told the Goalie News he was pushed by the team to keep playing and, in the words of one, “not make excuses.”

Another Point of View Regarding Cloutier

Here is the Kings’ response to the apartment claims of Cloutier, which can also be found from the Daily News link above:

“Cloutier was put in a hotel upon his arrival, and when his wife arrived, they were upgraded to a ``suites hotel.'' After the standard 28-day period, the Kings asked him to stay in the hotel, which they say is ``not out of the norm,'' and then Cloutier was injured. The Kings say Cloutier then decided to move to a different hotel, and the Kings say they aren't sure why. Then finally, they say Cloutier decided to get his own place in Manchester, before he was recalled.”

My Take:

Cloutier, as a Canadian player who played in a Canadian city, 100% knew that the interview he gave would have the effect it is having. Sometimes because Los Angeles is not a traditional hockey market, people mistakenly believe Kings’ fans are less passionate than other teams’ fans. The primary thing the Kings lack is good media coverage; not a vocal fan base.

All this said, shame on the Kings if Cloutier’s claims are accurate that he was told to play while hurt to the point that his hip problem became a bone on bone issue, no small injury by any means. The fact that Cloutier is Lombardi’s most visible mistake for which many still measure him may have something to do with how the organization treated him. That is no excuse if there is truth to his claims. Period.

Other free agents won’t come here if this is an accurate representation of what took place. I have read stories of problems in Toronto involving their medical staff. It is never acceptable to endanger a player’s health, period.

All this notwithstanding, my biggest issue with Cloutier even going on the basis that everything he says is 100% true, is the fact that he really takes very little ownership in his situation. It is easy, convenient and emotionally satisfying to air the Kings’ dirty laundry. The problem is that many will blame the messenger, not the message. That just is.

If anyone believes the Kings would bench Cloutier if he was performing on the ice, think again. Bar none, the first, fifth and tenth question directed at Lombardi by every member of the press and any fan that gets an audience with Lombardi is a demand for him to be accountable for this contract and the debacle that has followed Cloutier since he signed that deal. (It is solely on the Kings that they gave him this contract.) No one except Cloutier wanted him to succeed more than Lombardi.

Some are suggesting that Cloutier has owned his part about his poor play. That is not my take when I look at the two interviews given. Rather, it reads more like the Kings owed him the right to rehabilitate his career. As to THAT, I take extreme issue. Ice time is earned; paychecks are owed. Big difference.

Right now Cloutier and his extension is the legacy many peg on Lombardi, and rightfully so. I will give all concerned the benefit of the doubt so long as everyone owns their part of this train wreck. Lombardi has; I am waiting for Cloutier to follow suit. If he owned his part in this publicly, I assure all concerned that Kings’ fans would consider him in a kinder light. Now, he comes off poorly and unaccountable. That label is all Cloutier. He now has to decide how he will come out of this.

Carla Muller

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