1) A tad late in our opinion, but better late than never. Apparently, and surprisingly the LA Kings have decided that their once starting goalie, whom they acquired from the Canucks in July of 2006 for a pair of draft picks, was not up to the task of staying with the big club. He never was able to get comfortable and set in the anticipated role struggling with inconsistent play and many injuries. Most recently to his hip.
2) Cloutier is due to make $3.1-million both this season and also next, and will still be paid that when he clears wavers and is sent to Manchester(the Kings AHL affiliate) Once he clears wavers his salary will no longer count against the Kings salary cap, leaving significant space/flexibility (7-8 mil) if they choose to make additional moves now or later in the season.
3) Our only question is why it took so long to realize this was a bad move? We have never been big Cloutier fans. Well, we like the fact that he can drop his gloves and do this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkGhrsWQQME However, he has NEVER impressed us as anything more than a backup/AHL caliber tender. Having flashes of brilliance, but never winning/being the difference consistently. Which explains why he has failed to catch on with his now, 5th team.!
4) So where do the Kings go from here? Its a mere 8 days till their initial tilt in London against the high powered San Jose Shark. The word from the left coast is that they are feeling very comfortable handing the reigns over to either Jason LaBarbera, who had a nice start last year only to fade badly the second half, J. S. Aubin, who was less than impressive with the Leafs the last couple of seasons, or may they hand the starting role to a 19 year old??
5) Jonathan Bernier, younger brother of Sharks forward Steve Bernier has been playing rather well in camp we are told. We have only seen him a bit in the Canada-Russian Summit Series where he put in a very impressive effort. He does have an additional year of junior eligibility left, but if he excels the job may be offered to him. He can NOT be sent to the AHL, so the Kings will have a short window to see if he can handle the rigors of the NHL, or needs to be sent back to the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the QMJHL.
6) We feel its too bad that LA GM, Dean Lombardi, didn't realize his error sooner and try to land/trade for a better starting goalie. We feel that may be this teams only weakness. Bernier's potential aside, we are not comfortable with the other 2 potential tenders to be able to carry this team deep into the post season. As always thats why they play the games. Time will tell.