I’m organizing a big Pity Party for goalie Dan Cloutier, and you’re all invited.
As chronicled in the Vancouver Sun Tuesday, the former Canucks goalie, signed by Los Angeles to a two-year, $6.2-million contract extension before he played a single minute with the Kings, is unhappy with the way team management has treated him ever since.
From complaining about equipment (the Kings wanted him to do away with his birdcage-style mask and wear something more modern) to protesting the obvious indignities of economy-class airline tickets and accommodations that didn’t include a five-star hotel and his own personal concubine, Cloutier hit just about every point on the spoiled athlete checklist.
I’m surprised he wasn’t upset that L.A. GM Dean Lombardi didn’t cut off the crusts on his sandwiches for him.
Still, even Cloutier himself couldn’t totally shut out the reality that faces every journeyman goaltender who’s had nearly a decade to establish himself as a premium NHL backstopper.
“Don't get me wrong, it's been a great career,” he said. “I got a chance to play 10 years, made a lot of friends, played in some great cities, made tons of money. But to end it like this, that's not the way anybody wants to end it.”
That’s true. But I know a whole lot of people – including goaltenders who came close, but never made it to the NHL – who would be perfectly happy ending their playing days with as much money as Cloutier earned over the years.
And implying that he wasn’t given a fair shake in California just doesn’t resonate with me, especially when the Rangers, Lightning and Canucks all gave him many chances to succeed.
• On the other end of the spectrum, we have a feel-great story in Dan Cleary, who was rewarded by the Red Wings Tuesday with a five-year, $14-million contract.
All but given up on as an impact NHLer prior to the 2004-05 lockout – and tainted by a drinking-and-driving arrest in 1998 – Cleary did nothing but put his nose to the grindstone after that and has turned his career around in Motown.
Congratulations to him and the Wings for a relationship that I doubt will end as poorly as Cloutier’s has with the Kings.
Adam Proteau is The Hockey News' online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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