The end for Cloutier?

It sure looks like it. As I wrote in today’s paper — you can read it here — Dan Cloutier has almost certainly played his last game as a King. Sources have indicated to me that Cloutier is not in the Kings’ plans for next season, with a buyout serving as the most likely remedy to the $3.1 million the Kings owe him next season.

Here’s what Cloutier had to say yesterday about his future with the Kings:

“I have no idea. Who knows? This year has been a roller-coaster year. One for the record books, with everything I’ve gone through. I certainly proved to myself that I can still play in this league, but I don’t know what the future holds.”

Cloutier went on to be effusive in his praise of the Kings’ young goaltenders, pointing out that the Kings have a bright future with goalies such as Erik Ersberg, Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier. Cloutier said, “There’s a lot of depth in the organization (at goaltender). Obviously they’re rebuilding and I’m not a young guy. Maybe I’m in their plans and maybe I’m not. … When I first got up, I thought I would play more, but (Ersberg) got up and ran with it, so I’m happy for him.”

I followed up by asking Cloutier the following: “You might not know what the Kings’ plans are for you, but would you like to be back with the Kings next season?” He said:

“Obviously I have a contract with them. I’m a guy who honors my contract. It’s whatever their plan is. I’m not going to be bitter about whatever happens. If I’m not in their plans, I’m not.”

Cloutier went on, once again, to praise the Kings’ young players, and said, “It’s too bad they went through what they had to this year. The future is bright for these guys.”

So that’s that, for now. If I remember correctly, buyouts must be done by July 1. McCauley’s buyout got done on the day of the draft last year. So stay tuned…

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  • MstrB

    I hear Ontario needs a goalie next season, time to get Dan a house in Fontana.

  • Goon Squad

    “Thoughts.”

    You come from a law background, so does Lombardi. Why don’t you take your obviously extensive hockey knowledge and see if you can parlay it into a position interning or co-managing a local pee-wee team. You could learn the ins and outs of Zamboni maintenance, styrofoam cup rationing, and parental interference, all while being ridiculed and second guessed. Perhaps you have what it takes to work your way all the way up to the National Hockey League. Perhaps not. But at the very least it would keep you focused on things that are within your control as well as your grasp. These are my thoughts. Oh, and maybe some yoga or green tea? A re-reading of “The Secret”, or just a good porn flick. Because pal, you are in the MINORITY in believing that a 17th place finish would have been better than 29th, or in thinking that a 17th place finish would have magically happened by throwing the entire Monarchs team on the ice or by paying 1 Billion Dollars to Chris Drury.

  • Anonymous

    “I certainly proved to myself that I can still play in this league,”

    I believe that he needs something to cure him of his myopia…

  • Pierroth

    The important thing to remember here is that there are a number of Motel 6 locations within a 10 mile radius of the arena in Ontario.

    Speaking of buyouts, does Anthony have a figure in mind to join the Ducks blog??

  • quisp

    Look. I don’t want Cloutier to play for the Kings, and I didn’t want him to when we got him in the first place. I felt bad for him when he let in that goal in the playoffs however many years ago. And I felt bad for him when he crapped out here, too. I don’t think it’s his fault the Kings signed him to a big contract or re-upped him for no reason. It does sound like he played injured when he shouldn’t have, etc. etc.. I really, really hope the Kings buy him out and he makes a successful comeback somewhere else. Remember how well old, fat Grant Fuhr did when he left the Kings? Cloutier is only whatever he is, 31?

    Really, his quote about “proving” he can still play is something he has to say. He has a job to do; he has show he has confidence, and he’s probably run out of “bad year” quotes. And in general, I think he said all the right things about the kings youth movement, etc..

    Again, I’m glad he’s going, if that’s the case. And frankly I hope “Labs” is right behind him.

    But really, it would be nice if people would stop yapping about all the money the Kings paid him, or Handzus, or whoever. They paid him what the market would bear, for fear of someone else paying him what the market would bear.

  • Rich Hammond

    I’m not your parent, nor do I want to be. But cut the crap. All of you. I appreciate the readership, greatly, but the immaturity is boring.

  • BallPointHammer

    Trading for and re-signing Cloutier were the worst moves Lombardi made. They’re the only ones he made that are totally inexplicable.

  • DAn H.

    I appreciate all you do Rich..maybe the ban stick would be good for a few of the letsgokings people that snuck in.

    Anyway I hope they buy out Cloutier. I don’t know how he thinks he proved he can play in the NHL. He was AWFUL last year and he wasn’t any better save 2 games this year that he played. I hope he can afford better than motel 6 on his vacation this summer.

  • Christa

    Cloutier was one of many scapegoats this season. It seems as though when it comes to the crease, nothing and no one aside from the ever elusive ‘elite’ goaltender would make most of you happy. You take out your frustration of a lackluster defense and average goaltending on two guys (Clouts and LaBarbera) and pedistal unproven youth (Bernier and Ersberg). Being so very personally insulting to guys just doing their jobs is ridiculous. With that being said, the last several games Cloutier played for the Kings he was steady (admittedly not stellar) and did his job despite the obvious lack of ‘fan’ support. I sincerelyt hope he takes the summer to regroup and fully heal then gets the opportunity to come back next season and stuffs a few shutouts in the mouths of the Armchair GMs and big bad Keyboard Jockeys.

  • Quisp

    Well, as far as scapegoats go, the idea of a scapegoat is to find a blameless somebody to take the blame for a problem, rather than acknowledging the real problem. Cloutier is obviously ineligible as a scapegoat in 07-08 since he didn’t play for the Kings this year but for a handful of meaningless games. Modry, another perennial favorite goat candidate, simply excelled this year by all measures and is now in the playoffs somewhere else. I actually think the King’s team defense was so obviously bad all year that LaBarbera more or less escaped scapegoating, even though there is a lot more talk about his rebound-up-giving than there ever was before. None of the forwards (save, maybe sort of a little bit #13) ever really got blamed for the Kings “direction” this year. That leaves, really, three people to receive the brunt of the blame. Blake, the superstar future-hall-of-famer stanley -cup winning elite defenseman whose jersey will eventually be retired; Crawford and Lombardi.

    I happen to think Blake is not an inspiring leader. And now he’s too old to be the go-to guy on D. He might be well-cast as an elder-statesman, a la MacGuiness (sp!) when Pronger was young, provided that we have a Pronger (JMFJ, I guess…). But to expect him to play like he’s 29 is not smart. But that’s not really his fault. It’s management’s fault.

    I think (and I don’t think I’m saying anything many on this blog haven’t said before), the blame is threefold:

    1) the Kings ARE in fact rebuilding. And this is what it feels like.

    2) Lombardi’s free agent signings all sucked.

    3) Crawford’s coaching style is that oft-discussed “activated D” style, or at least it was at the beginning of the season, and has been throughout his career. For whatever reason, maybe the youth of the team, or maybe the youth of the forwards combined with the slow-foot-speed of some of the d, the Kings were not able to pull it off. They scored a lot of goals, obviously, but allowed in a lot more.

    Maybe the Kings will grow into this style. That would be great, of course, since it’s a lot more fun to watch a winning team that plays that style. So I’m all for Crawford succeeding.

    Also, re Lombardi: just because his signings didn’t pan out doesn’t mean he could have done better. It’s possible that’s just the lot you draw when you are rebuilding and (1) the best players would rather go somewhere else, and (2) you can’t combat that by throwing obscene money at them, as you could before the cap. You have to play the numbers game, or else you end up not being able to sign your own core players in just a couple of years.

    It’s not as simple as “man, Lombardi is an idiot,” or “he just doesn’t want to win.”

    And, as for Crawford…I do think his style contributed to the Kings final resting place in the standings. But on the other hand, his style (activated D) helped get Brown and O’Sullivan to another level of scoring, and if they take strides next year, becoming 40 and 30 goal scorers, Crawford will have had a lot to do with that.

    So, in other words, to the degree they are to blame, they must also be credited with future success. It seems to be the jury is still very much out.

  • JDM

    “With that being said, the last several games Cloutier played for the Kings he was steady (admittedly not stellar)”

    He did have a few solid games. However, the ducks game yesterday was a perfect example of why he isn’t a #1 quality goaltender anymore. Goalies have to win games, and they don’t always have to steal them. I was at the game and to my eye, the kings outplayed the ducks for the majority of the game. Now, if we outplay a team and manage to get 3 goals by their goaltender, than that is a game we should win, at least statistically. This is why I don’t like Labarbara much either, he’s lost us similar games as well. Ersberg on the other hand, stole us a few points, even when the kings were mostly outplayed. Though he is young and we’ve only seen a little of him, he is the only goalie the kings have used in past seasons I have seen do that. That is what a number 1 goalie in the nhl has to do. I can’t wait to see how he performs in training camp.

  • Christa

    I’ll never say that I think Cloutier is your Above Average goalie who deserves the #1. Not at this point. I do, however, think that as far as fan appreciation goes he was ice skating up hill the day he signed that contract. Unless he was going to come in and match his 3-30 win seasons it was going to be a loss.

    I think the last two years he had a mountain of issues stacked against him. Had he been healthy, he could have shown us something more. Had the fans actually given him a chance they could have seen that he played OK. I mean his nickname on a few message boards is “Beachball”. Not exactly the name given to someone you’re being open minded about. Im not myopic. I know he was guilty of the soft goal. Sometimes the INOPPORTUNE soft goal. He’s not the only one and he was stupid to play injured under ANY circumstance. However, when there are so many holes in a team… a team in the midst of a neverending ‘rebuild’, that I think several fans did lean a little too far into the crease to place their blame. (See the first several posts on any Cloutier themed blog.)

    Ersberg is a 26 year old goalie with International experience. He’s not a Quick or a Bernier. We should expect more out of him because he has the time logged and is reaching his prime, but if you say he didn’t give up a few crap goals during his games I suggest you lower your pedistal and check again.

    Bottom line for me, I am just totally sick of seeing the snide comments from fans who barely if ever gave the guy a chance and choose to be hateful rather than constructive with their opinions.

  • Anonymous

    Christa,
    This organization gave him a chance. Close to 2 years of it. He’s always blown his chances, so don’t blame the fans. We’re the ones that pays Cloutiers’ bills and he never gave us a chance.

  • JDM

    No doubt Ersberg let in some soft goals. I don’t recall any of them costing a game though. Really I just love the head Ersberg has on his shoulders compared to Labarbera or Cloutier.

    Of course Cloutier got a hard time, and I certainly came down on him hard myself last season. I was hopeful when we signed him, as I typically always am with the team I’ve loved so dearly for so long, but he didn’t pan out, so my hope and any respect be stricken.

    To agree with you, overly cynical people never cease to annoy. I had a girlfriend whose parents have season tickets, and every year they would tell me they were going to stop getting them, and every time I run in to them I get greeted with “How bad are YOUR kings?” or something like that. I still see them at every game, and they never have a positive thing to say.
    It fascinates me how many people have this connection either to the kings, or maybe some just the sport of hockey, yet remain so pessimistic and never seem to enjoy a game unless it is won. These are the same people who can not appreciate a good game when they see one, even if we lose by a goal.
    Which brings me back to the kings goaltenders. Take the last San Jose game, right off the bat Ersberg lets in a horrible goal. Now, I’ve seen this happen to Cloutier and Labarbera several times over the last few seasons, and virtually every time I can remember, they crumbled from there. Their confidence immediately shaken and never found until a game (or two or three or four) later. Ersberg followed up with a strong performance, and only let in one more goal which was by no means ‘soft’.

    Ersberg is no phenom, but he does have the right look in his eye. Call me stupid, shallow or whatever, I judge many goaltenders on what look they have in their eye. The ones you want on your team have the same intense, nervous but confident glare no matter where they are or whether they are playing or not. Labarbera looks like a deer in headlights, and Cloutier like a sad puppy putting on a mean face so he doesn’t cry.

    Granted, he by no means can be directly blamed for this season’s mess. However, I, like most hockey fans, am superstiscious as hell when it comes to this game. So I can not help but feel his presense in the club falls on the side of bad joojoo. I’ll be happy to see him go.

    Best of luck to him whatever he does, so long as it has nothing to do with us.

  • metalmaster

    I am not a GM and will never be one but I knew the
    Cloutier signing was a big big mistake from day one.
    This guy was never a top
    ten NHL goalie and was never going to be answer for Kings.If you think I am wrong check out Canucks
    message boards. He won 30
    games 3 years in a row with a very strong team in
    front of him.Check out how he totally choked in the
    playoffs.He also threw
    this organization under the
    bus a couple of weeks ago
    and at that point I thought
    he should have been given
    another game in goal for LA
    I am still shaking my head as to why he started on Fan
    Appreciation Day.

  • BBanzai

    Good Riddance to bad rubbish, Clouts was crap before he arrived here, and as usual playled like crap while he was here. His name “Beachball” will haunt him the rest of his days.

    As for fault, i need only to ask one question? What kind of responsible GM Signs a unproven goalie to an Extension in pre-season without having seen him play in said teams uniform for even one season game??

    The original deal was
    7-05-06 Dan Cloutier traded to La for 2007 second round pick (#33-Taylor Ellington), future considerations (2009 conditional third round pick

    Then 9-27-06 re-signed to a 2-year contract extension through 08-09***I assume the phone was ringing off the hook days before that season start to see if the “hot” cloutier was available, Deano must have panic to lock up his golden Goalie! LOL

  • Christa

    OK Metal, I’ll bite.

    What did you know that Dean Lombardi didn’t?

    I totally get it. I even agree. Dan Cloutier wasn’t the difference maker this team so desperately needed in net to make up for the holes in defense and streaky offense. At 31 years old he is injury prone and apt to give up the weak goal at the wrong time. That is not a quality any team Beer League and up needs in their goalie. One thing I can tell you from my own (slightly higher than beer league experience) is that no one is more aware of the weak goals and feels it more than Dan himself… but that’s a tangent we don’t need to sail into. I agree that the contract he signed was ill concieved. Giving ANYONE a two year extension before seeing him in a game after a two year injury/lockout hiatus is a bad idea. Hindsight is 20/20.

    So I ask you naysayers to put on your GM caps and tell me … What did Dean Lombardi see in Dan Cloutier to make that contract worthwhile?

  • quisp

    Of all the self-aggrandizing self-congratulatory cliches of sports fans, I find “we pay his salary” to be simultaneously the most revealing, pathetic and insulting. It reflects an absurd sense of entitlement that frankly would be laughable if practiced in one’s normal non-sports-related every day life. I mean, really, whose salary don’t I pay, if by paying your salary I mean that I contribute some infinitesimally small fraction of the overall budget of some immensely huge global enterprise?

    Anyway, technically, I think people who say those kinds of things really pay the popcorn’s salary (fill in your concession or advertiser of choice). The popcorn, in turn, pays for Cloutier. Now, if the popcorn company were to call AEG about Cloutier, I’m pretty sure they would take the call.

  • nykingfan

    In the end, does it really matter? He’ll be gone…Thank God.
    Lombardi took a gamble and it failed..miserably. the Kings thought they were getting a 30 win goalie and instead got dead weight on the cap. I have absolutely no sympathy for Cloutier. He was paid a handsome sum and performed at less than an ECHL level. Whether that was due to injury or not, it doesn’t matter. His job is to keep pucks out of his net and he didn’t do that. As fans, thats all we care about. We don’t know him personally or care to. We just want our team to win and if someone is not helping in that cause, then “screw ‘em”.
    Christa,
    One thing I don’t understand is why you think we should have “supported” Cloutier? You earn the support you get from the fans. I’ve watched every game he’s played in since he became a King and I didn’t see him earn anything. He let in some of the softest goals I’ve seen since Checmanik, or however you spell that losers name. If you think he played well in the Ducks game, you’re kidding yourself. A goalie is supposed to make big saves to keep your team in the game. he didn’t..not even close.

  • metalmaster

    Christa
    I saw enough of his play in
    the past in Vancouver to
    know that he was not going to be a good fit for the Kings especially with what
    they had playing in front of him. He basically got run out of Vancouver after
    getting pulled in a bunch of playoff games. Some
    things in sports are just
    common sense you don’t need to be a genius to
    figure them out. A big part
    of the reason that he was
    even brought here has to do
    with Mark Crawford being his coach in Vancouver. I
    have questioned all of DL’s free agent signings
    with the exception of Handzus, who I have always
    liked. I never liked Stuart
    but he was playing very well when he was traded.If
    I were Gm I would have just brought up Boyle and
    Moulson and never signed
    Nagy and Calder. How much
    worse of a season would that have made it?

  • Goon Squad

    “If
    I were Gm I would have just brought up Boyle and
    Moulson and never signed
    Nagy and Calder.”

    That’s just not true. I don’t know you, but I have to think if you were really GM you’d look at the big picture in summer of 07 and realize that you don’t put kids in roster spots before camp. Lombardi did the absolute best he could have done and I’m frankly a little sick and tired of hearing the same old whining from people who think they would have signed Drury, or think they would have put the entire Monarchs team on the ice. Did you hear Lombardi’s comments during the Anaheim game Regarding O’Sullivan? Pretty much speaks directly to your point.

  • Christa

    I guess since I don’t take who plays and who doesnt as a personal afront and I am not under the dilusion that paying for tickets gives me the right to tear someone down so thoroughly Im not a real fan. Cloutier is just the latest in a long line of Goaltenders who have been hung out to wash by fans who are looking for the darn near unattainable. Maybe it’s wrong of me, but I call myself a fan because I support EVERYONE wearing the Kings sweater and hope for the best out of every one of them every night and I dont make a habit of driving busses over them if they dont live up to expectations.

    As for the ever popular Cechmanek argument, he was a slightly under .500 goalie (18-21-6) with a 2.51 GAA and .906 SV%. Granted, the game has changed since 03-04, but those still arent numbers to sniff at… especially on your perenially underachieving Kings team (at the end of the Andy Murray era). I get earning respect from fans, but the guy was never given an inkling of credit even when he DID have a good game. How do you go about earning respect from fans who have no desire to be open minded toward you? Jack Johnson came in with all the pomp circumstance and hype that fans could muster. (Kill Jack Kill chants in his firs shift, anyone??) Exactly what had he done in his first NHL game to deserve the respect he got?

    I get it. There is no changing the minds of those who are convinced. I agreed that Cloutier wasnt the saviour. Ive described already exactly what I think about his play and future potential. I dont have to agree with you that it’s ok to spew such hateful commentary just because you’re a ‘fan’ sitting behind a keyboard and it’s clear that until the Kings bring in one of the very very VERY few goaltenders that are considered “Elite” none of you will be happy.

    (PS: I concede to agree to mildly agree but still disagree with all the haters. All these posts must have RHammond throwing fits and hoping I start my own blog with all the space I eat up so I bid you Adieu, gentlemen. May next season bring you the Keeper you all desire to see… or enough noose rope to hang whoever shows up! ;) )

  • Anonymous

    Cloutier made Dan Berthiaume and Roman Cechmanek look like world class goalies by comparison…

    He may equal the equivalent of Ron Grahame though…in us giving up WAY too much for so little…

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pa7M6JwhxVE hcg man

    There is obviously a lot to know about this.

  • http://www.eodd.com Tara Brookes

    OK, so this will eleminate plateauing? Plateauing in my worst problem. It makes me give up.