Monday, December 24, 2012

Absurd Goalie Monday: Jacques Cloutier

This week's AGM is a goalie who was able to be a workhorse in the junior leagues, but was never able to stay healthy enough in the pros to show off his talents. Of course, it could be a harder transition for him, but he did what he could and then moved to a teaching role after learning so much. This week, the profile of Jacques Cloutier.

Cloutier started his trek in the QMJHL with the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs starting in the 1976-77 season, playing in 25 games and posting an 11-6-2 record. Starting in the 1977-78 season, Cloutier became a workhorse for Trois-Rivieres, playing in 71 games of the team's 72-- compiling a 46-17-7 record, then going 12-1 in the playoffs, helping them win the QMJHL Championship. Cloutier would go 1-3 in the Memorial Cup that season. Cloutier played all 72 games for Trois-Rivieres in the 1978-79 season and had a 58-8-6 record, then 12-1 in the playoffs again, then 2-2 in the Memorial Cup. After the Buffalo Sabres drafted Cloutier in 1979, he had his workload cut down, playing only 55 games in the 1979-80 season, finishing with a 27-20-7 record-- then 3-4 in the playoffs.

Turning pro for the 1980-81 season, Cloutier would head to the AHL with the Rochester Americans; getting into 61 games and coming up with a 27-27-6 record. In the 1981-82 season, Cloutier went 14-7-2 in 23 games in Rochester, while being called into duty for the Sabres and putting up a 5-1-0 record in seven games. Cloutier stayed with Buffalo for the bulk of the 1982-83 season as a back-up (10-7-6), but the Sabres traded for an experienced back-up; putting Cloutier back in Rochester-- where he would go 7-3-1 in 13 games, then posting a 12-4 playoff record lifting Rochester to the Calder Cup.

The 1983-84 season, Cloutier was back in Rochester playing in 51 games with a final count of 26-22-1 and then going 9-9 in the playoffs. In the 1984-85 season, Cloutier would play 14 games in Rochester (10-2-1) and one game in Buffalo (0-0-1) before he tore some of his knee ligaments, putting him out for the rest of the season. The injury would keep Cloutier out until midway through the 1985-86 season, but he would get into 14 games with Rochester (10-2-2) and then 15 for Buffalo (5-9-1); then playing five games for Canada in the World Championship, helping the country get bronze.

Thanks to injury and inconsistent play for Tom Barrasso, Cloutier was able to stay up with Buffalo for the 1986-87 season, going 11-19-5 in 40 games, but the 1987-88 season saw Cloutier get into a logjam in Buffalo, playing only 20 games and posting a 4-8-2 record in that time. In the 1988-89 season, Cloutier was still in the logjam, but injuries and a horrific moment to Clint Malarchuk would put Cloutier in the spotlight. Cloutier would have a 15-14-0 record in 36 appearances and would go 1-3 in the playoffs. Also, Cloutier spent 11 games in Rochester, but with a lackluster 2-7-0 record.

Before the 1989-90 season, Cloutier was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks, where Cloutier would be a starter in that season for 43 games and compile an 18-15-2, then going 0-2 in four playoff games. Cloutier was hung up in another logjam in Chicago during the 1990-91 season-- being pushed out by Ed Belfour and then Dominik Hasek-- only getting on 10 games with a 2-3-1 record.

During January 1991, Cloutier was traded to the Quebec Nordiques and would finish the season there, appearing in 15 games with a 3-8-2 record. As a back-up in 1991-92, Cloutier appeared in 26 games and posted a 6-14-3 record. Cloutier was the third goalie during the 1992-93 season for Quebec, only appearing in three games and going 0-2-1. The 1993-94 season, brought more games for Cloutier-- but finishing with a 3-2-1 record in 14 appearances. After that season, Cloutier would retire from playing.

Cloutier stuck to hockey, but hired by the Nordiques as an AHL assistant coach with the Cornwall Aces from 1994 until 1996, then being promoted to assistant/goalie coach of the Colorado Avalanche-- winning Stanley Cup rings in 1996 and 2001. He was let go by the Avalanche in 2009, but would go over to Switzerland to help coach with Bob Hartley and help the Zurich Lions win a league championship and moved with Hartley from Switzerland to Calgary to be the assistant coach of the Flames whenever the lockout ends.

Junior stand-out that got hampered by injury and during a time where goalies were plentiful, Cloutier was part of the casualties that, but did make a good enough name for himself and had his mind for hockey-- transitioning it to a solid coaching career.

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