REDEFINING DAN CLOUTIER

by Ron Spence

It’s the rainy season here in Thailand and is very hot during the afternoon, and quite damp as the day wears on. With the changes in humidity and heat, it sometimes makes it difficult to sleep at night.

A few nights ago at 3 am, I couldn’t sleep and went on the net.

After reading all of the hockey that I could take, I turned to the World News.

One item was on Neville Chamberlain’s granddaughter and her defense of her maligned grandfather.

Some six plus decades ago Chamberlain had signed a non-agression pact with Hitler, giving him the freedom to decimate the continent.

“[The pact] averted a catastrophe which would have ended civilisation as we have known it,” he told parliament at the time.

cham

A few items down the Google page was an article on Ted Kennedy’s memoirs, True Compass.

ken

Kennedy had been driving his car – one night in 1969 – and drove off of a bridge, and his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne drowned.

This event, plus Kennedy’s failure to report it ruined his higher political ambitions.

“That night on Chappaquiddick Island ended in a horrible tragedy that haunts me every day of my life…Atonement is a process that never ends,” he wrote.

cloutiertopcloutierbottomDan Cloutier had left hockey a year ago, after both injuries and a loss of confidence. He decided that he wanted to play again and contacted Jim Nill.

*****

Now, those of you who read my dispatches know that I see lines connecting dots – that other people don’t see.

I saw a pattern that night as I sat in front of my computer, the rain pounding on our roof.

Neville Chamberlain is primarily remembered for his non-aggression pact – his license for Hitler to kill.

Ted Kennedy is largely remembered for Mary Jo Kopechne’s death – and not for the significant work that he did in the U.S. Senate.

The Pact and the car accident became the defining moments of both mens’ lives.

And last – and least – Dan Cloutier is remembered for the soft goal that he allowed Nicklas Lidstrom to score.

While played on a far lesser stage, it likewise became Dan Cloutier’s defining moment.

*****

“To forge somebody’s reputation on the basis of the last three years of their life is incredibly unfair,” said Chamberlain’s grandaughter.

“Had his career ended in 1937 before he became prime minister, he would probably have been seen as one of the greatest social reformers of the inter-war period.”

The same could be said of Kennedy. Had he not had a few cocktails, gotten horny and not driven his car that night….

Now, last – and least – Dan Cloutier is being given a chance to redeem his career.

He’s a fine fellow and doesn’t need any personal redemption, but he would like the opportunity to redefine his career – to have that extra time to make some impact – so that people will forget that playoff night that has come to define him.

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