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Thursday, May 18, 2006 

Dan Cloutier: A People's History

Cloots was born Danielle LeMar Cloutier (pronounced KLOO-tee-YAY) on April 22, 1982. He was 6 years old at time of birth. LeMar was born in Mont-Laurier, Quebec, a town known for not being known by anyone. In his time there, he managed to grow nearly as tall as me, which helped to garner early comparisons to a young Ron Hextall. Apparently his combative, fiery nature may have added to the illusions, as can be seen in the video at the end of this post.

Always one to defy all odds, despite mediocre numbers in being carried by a strong team to the Memorial Cup, Cloutier was the surprising Halfa-man Araujo pick of the first round of the 1994 NHL entry draft, taken 26th overall by the New York Rangers. His potential was seen by the Rangers as being greater than Jose Theodore, Patrick Elias, Milan Hejduk and Daniel Alfredson, who were all still available at the time of his choice. Even before his career started, Cloots was already more successful than 4 potential Hall of Famers. A sure sign of things to come.

As his career got underway, a few roadblocks stood in the way. Most notably were his lack of focus, inability to find a puck in crowds, and his lack of winning games. After being traded from the Rangers to the Lightning, the Sports Forecaster in 2000 had this to say about LeMar:

"Counted upon as an emerging star and No. 1 netminder via the Rangers, Cloutier's first year in Tampa as the go-to guy was good at first but miserable shortly thereafter. So miserable that the Lightning dealt for another "goalie of the future" when they acquired Kevin Weekes from the Islanders during the past summer. While the Lightning's defensive shortcomings didn't help his cause, Cloutier's .885 save percentage made matters even worse. A spirited and fiery competitor, his humbling 1999-2000 season may help in the long run. Too early in his career to count him down and out, but he'll now have to work his way back up as the No. 1 man, a job Weekes also has his eyes set on. A warrior, Cloutier is destined to a nice future nonetheless."

And it certainly was too early to count him down and out. Despite following the season described above with a 3-13 start and a 3.52 GAA, his career wasn't headed down the road to obscurity as many with better numbers had before him. Despite the fact that he no longer fit into the Lightning plans, nor did he have any apparent trade value, Cloots stood up against the odds again. Against all odds and logic, the Vancouver Canucks saw enough value in his less than mediocre numbers to trade both a top defenseman (who would go on to play nearly 30 minutes a game with the Islanders) as well as a second round draft pick for his services.

Always the selfless hero, Cloots inclusion in the Canucks ranks allowed them to move Felix Potvin, something that gave a new life to his career. Wanting to see Felix get back on his feet in LA, Cloutier laid the forces down, allowing Potvin to miraculously catch the Canucks in the standings by going 13-5-5 compared to cloutiers sub-.500 record. As a result, the Canucks had to face the eventual Cup winning Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs A classy move from a classy guy who just wanted to see his former teammate succeed.

In his first 4 seasons in Vancouver, Cloutiers production steadily increased along with the talent of the team in front of him. His GAA consistently decreased from 2.43 to 2.27, and his save % steadily increased from .894 to .914. At the same time, a young Alex Auld was looking good in starts with the Canucks, putting up a save % in the .930's and a GAA under 2.00 in limited play. Despite failed playoffs after failed playoffs under Cloutiers distracted watch, the Canucks brass still had faith in Cloots and refused to look elsewhere for help. Showing yet again that he's always the team player, after starting the 2005 season with a 3.17 GAA and .892 save %, Cloutier knew the time was right for Auldy to get his chance in the NHL. Knowing that the team would never give up on him, for no discernible reason, Cloutier did the only thing he could, and on November 20th he purposely got in Rob Niedermayers way, partially-tearing his ACL. Despite the fact that a partial-tear need not end someone's season, Dan elected for surgery, thus paving the way for Alex's emergence as a bonefide #1 goaltender.

Career Highlites

1999-2000 - Career High for Separate Injuries in one season: Strained Groin Nov, Strained Groin Feb, Strained Neck Mar, Strained MCL Mar
1999-2000 - Suspended 4 games for always classy move of purposely kicking someone in the head
2000-2001 - Got losing down to such an art that he managed to lose a game without facing a single shot. Seriously, it was Oct 18 against Minnesota. Look it up if you don't believe me.
2000-2001 - Furthered Kevin Weekes and Felix Potvin's Careers
2001-2002 - Furthered Niklas Lidstroms Career
2002-2003 - Allowed Joe Sakic's 500th career goal
2005-2006 - Furthered Alex Auld's Career
2005-2006 - Wasn't responsible for either the Devils or the Sharks elimination from the playoffs, making him relatively harmless enough now to have his own post on SGN.

Funniest post ever --- and i'm actually a Cloots fan (for reasons unknown)

Okay, Kent. You've failed miserably. Your assignment from me was:

"You must write a sincere and informative post about the positive aspects of Canucks’ goalie Dan Cloutier. Sarcasm must be kept to a minimum."

You have failed on all counts. I may never speak to you again.

believe it or not, that was as minimal as I could keep it. everything in there was positive. its a feel good story about a man stepping up and defying all odds, while still being a selfless supporters of his friends. it's very heart-warming and casts cloots in a wonderful light. i actually made myself a fan of his in the process. really. and isn't that better than you could have hoped for?

i cant wait for the leafs to trade for him so that i can watch him first hand.

oh kent, you never fail to amuse me!

i cant believe alannah fell right into your trap... ha

I think the 3 pictures on the post tells all: pucks going in and Minnesota celebrating after a goal behind him!

its funny cause cloutier sucks

Best regards from NY! »

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