Goalie situation is scrambled

Times Staff Writer

Mathieu Garon was all smiles Wednesday. Barry Brust was packing his bag for Edmonton. And Dan Cloutier's gear was still hanging in his stall.

The Kings' goaltending situation has reached another crossroads.

Cloutier will be put on injured reserve today because of what is being called a hip injury. Garon, who made it through his first practice with the team since injuring his groin Nov. 29, probably will come off injured reserve. And Brust, who is 2-0-1 in three NHL starts, will continue his Walter Mitty experience and remain with the team.

Cloutier was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam Wednesday and did not accompany the team to Edmonton, where it begins a three-game trip tonight against the Oilers.

"The soreness he is having in his hip is affecting his knee," Coach Marc Crawford said. "Hopefully by giving him a week off, [it] will give him time to work through the issues he has."

The hip injury was not related to the surgery on Cloutier's left knee that limited him to 13 games last season. "It's in the other leg," Crawford said.

Cloutier has been the face of the Kings' poor performance this season. He was acquired in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks and anointed as the team's No. 1 goaltender, and earned a two-year, $6.2-million contract extension, before he had played a regular-season game.

The move has looked more and more questionable as the season progresses. The Kings are 13th in the Western Conference. Cloutier ranks last in goals-against average (3.98) and save percentage (.860) among the 44 NHL goaltenders who have played in at least 12 games. He was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

"I just have to keep battling away," Cloutier said Tuesday. "The easy thing to do would be to give up. Obviously, I'm not having my best season. It's probably the worst season of my career."

Garon, meanwhile, was all smiles, not because of Cloutier's situation, but because he felt healthy enough to play. "This is the first time I have smiled in a month," Garon said. "I wish my wife was here to see it. It's not my decision to make, but I have no pain and feel ready to play."


at Edmonton, 6, FSN West

Site -- Rexall Place.

Radio -- 1150.

Records -- Kings 13-20-5, Oilers 18-15-2.

Record vs. Oilers (2005-06) -- 1-3.

Update -- Forward Alyn McCauley, who signed as a free agent last summer, made the trip and said, "Hopefully I'm going to get a chance to wear my Kings game jersey for the first time." McCauley has been rehabilitating from two knee surgeries.


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