January 29, 2009
Star Tribune writer Michael Russo has been mentioning Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild as a Calder Trophy candidate, which is technically correct since he's a rookie. That chatter has now taken a life of its own as Wild bloggers have mobilized to support the candidacy of a winger with 11 points in 48 games; blogs like Minnesota Wild Times, Hitting The Post, Hockey Wilderness and Ms. Conduct, who writes:
All I can figure out to do is get after it Jehovah's Witness-style and go door to door of all the professional hockey writers and ask them if they've accepted Cal Clutterbuck as their rookie savior.
Goodness knows he's done enough in his short NHL career to put together a pamphlet of information, including exciting color photos of NHL stars getting Clutterbucked.
Does he have a chance of winning Steve Mason's Calder? Probably not. But the campaign is a great way to bring the spotlight on a rookie that's making a difference on a team that doesn't get the press its Western Conference rivals do.
As time passes, maybe we'll see more glowing features like this one from USA Today on Clutterbuck:
Clutterbuck isn't simply one of those hardworking, hard-hitting overachievers sent out to pester opponents and fire up the crowd, however. He has some offensive ability, believe it or not, with eight goals and three assists on the season. Lemaire puts him on a scoring line sometimes for variety's sake. Clutterbuck ranks eighth on the team in goals, with more than Brent Burns, James Sheppard and -- sorry, this is too easy -- Marian Gaborik!
Still, he makes so many highlight reels by hitting and bumping and swinging that it's probably easy for opponents to dismiss his skating and shooting skill. "If they think I'm a grinder and they think that I'm not going to score goals, if they give me the opportunity to shoot the puck, then I'll take that opportunity whenever it's given," said Clutterbuck, who scored 35 goals in each of his last two seasons at the junior level. "I know what I can do. I think, more and more, I'm able to play my game."
As Nick from Hitting the Post wrote: "Shouldn't our Cal at least be in the conversation" for the Calder? We say yes, as long as it doesn't detract from that other conversation about Cal Clutterbuck about having one of the greatest hockey names since the retirement of Darren Rumble.
(By the way: Fan campaigns are awesome. The Washington Capitals Road Crew has put together an "Unofficial Sergei Fedorov Night-in-the-afternoon" for this weekend's game against the Detroit Red Wings to celebrate his becoming the all-time leading Russian scorer in the NHL. The CRC is asking fans to bring this sign (.pdf) to the game this weekend.)