The team insisted he shed his birdcage wire mask and helmet, citing insurance issues. Cloutier was never comfortable in a traditional mask, and a few games into last season he was feeling physical discomfort.
He was having hip pain. He volunteered to keep playing because the Kings' other goalie, Mathieu Garon, had a broken finger. Cloutier's pain got worse, but the team insisted initially there was little wrong with him.
Knowing his body, Cloutier pushed the issue. Only after a specialist said his career could be in jeopardy, the Kings sent him to Vail for season-ending surgery. In pain, Cloutier flew to Colorado in a middle economy-class seat and was lodged by the Kings at a Super-8 Motel about 50 kilometres from the clinic where he was treated daily.
Wow, how unfairly treated. He injured his hip but bravely soldiered on at the Kings' insistence because Mathieu Garon had an injured finger? What a hero, and what a jerk the Kings were to make him play.
Except it's absolutely not true.
Mathieu Garon injured his finger on January 13, the day after Cloutier had season-ending injury. Garon did injure his groin earlier that year, but that was on November 29th. Dan Cloutier has himself admitted that he was only healthy for about 2 weeks last season . (There is a notable change in performance starting on October 23rd, roughly 2 1/2 weeks into the season.) That means for more than a month (October 23rd-November 30th) the Kings forced Dan Cloutier to play, despite his insistence that he had a hip injury, because they just really needed that 4.35 GAA and .839 SV%, while the entire time Mathieu Garon (the team's #1 just a year ago) sat on the bench?* The Kings are incompetent, but they're not that incompetent. That, coupled with the fact that Dan Cloutier is a fiery competitor and probably would prefer to play through an injury, leads me to think that he's lying.
When Garon did go down on the 30th of November, the Kings played Dan Cloutier 8 more times before he finally shut it down on December 23rd. Cloutier claims the Kings did not believe Cloutier was seriously injured, but is it possible they did not believe that because Cloutier had played an entire month with the injury? That seems plausible.
Later on in the article, Cloutier complains that they sent him down to the AHL, didn't play him, and then benched him. In actuality, Cloutier played near the beginning of the season, sucked, and then the Monarchs made him rest because they didn't think his hip was fine. Funny how they'd have to make him sit despite his insistence he was fine, like he had hidden an injury from them before or something.
Look, Dan Cloutier obviously didn't work out in LA and on some level I feel bad for him. But for him to somehow try to blame his misfortune on the Kings (God forbid he stay at a Motel-6) is disingenuous at best and an outright lie at worst. Honestly, what's more likely: the Kings forced Cloutier to play, or Cloutier downplayed how badly he was injured because he wanted to play? This whole thing reminds me of the Eric Gagne fiasco from a couple years ago.
So what's the deal with this article, seeing how it has factual errors and definitely has an agenda? I think Dan wants the Kings to buy him out so he can either latch on with another club or possibly go to Europe. He found a columnist in Vancouver, a place he used to play, to help him embarrass the Kings in the hopes he'll be able to go play somewhere else while still collecting that $3.1 million dollars he's scheduled to make next year. I'm trying not to sound too mad because I want to concentrate on the facts, but I am very, very upset. I don't think the Kings will buy Cloutier out because they already have Alyn Macauley on the books, so this should get interesting.
*The two goalies basically split the starts, with Garon also getting 3 relief appearances because Cloutier got shelled.