Cloots ready for the fight

Tuesday, 5th August 2008

Brett ‘the Hitman’ Clouthier is about to embark upon his third season in a Manchester Phoenix shirt and he can’t wait to get back to his favoured hockey home.

Speaking from his home in Albany, New York State, Cloots explained why he’s keen to return to the North West. “The thing that appeals most about the Phoenix is the feeling of comfort, that’s the reason I signed back. The fans are very welcoming and have given me great support. I know a lot about the city and I'm quite familiar about everything Manchester has to offer. The Phoenix organization has always treated me with respect and has been excellent in tending to all of my needs. Tony Hand understands my role as a tough guy and also encourages me to play a more significant offensive role. When you like the city, organization, fans and the coach, it’s a no brainer, why wouldn't I come back? It’s a great place to play hockey, live and have some fun.”

Since arriving from rivals Sheffield midway through the 2006-07 season, Clouthier has developed a quite phenomenal rapport with the Phoenix supporters and he does not take that relationship lightly. “The support I've had from the fans in Manchester was a big factor in my re-signing, and in the way I play on the ice. When I play and hear the fans chanting my name it gives me that extra little push to make a hit, score a goal or win a fight. The fans in Manchester have been like a sixth player out there for me. I know they like the fighting and when they cheer for me as much as they do, I'm willing to drop someone to get them going even more.”

Despite his size, physical presence and the role he sometimes has to play, amongst some of his biggest fans are small children, and Clouthier never shirks from saying Hello and signing autographs. “The kids are great and I love to chat with them. They keep things simple and that appeals to me,” he laughed. “I can get right down to their level and have some fun. I think it’s important to get involved with and talk to the kids and they always seem happy to see me after a game.”

The physical aspect of ice hockey is well known and documented, and for players like Brett Clouthier, the enforcer role is pivotal in their contribution to the team, in what can become a one-on-one situation. “I play a rough style of game and there are always likely to be altercations with the other teams’ tough guys and I don’t mind fulfilling the role as the team enforcer. Fighting comes naturally to me and if you’re good at something you might as well do it. I think fighting is important in today’s game because it keeps guys honest out there, it has great entertainment value and in my mind, is quite enjoyable!”

In what can be a very physical environment, teams always look to gain an advantage and this summer has seen a number of the other clubs look to strengthen not only their skill levels, but their grit and intimidation levels too. The 27-year old originally from Ottawa, who picked the Elite Leagues’ “Hard as Ice” Award as voted by the fans last season, takes all the PR hype in his stride. “Every season there are new tough guys, enforcers and fighters; teams like to say that they have the toughest team or that they won’t be pushed around. The fact of the matter is I have no problem proving them wrong. I’ve always been confident in my pugilistic skills and have backed it up by laying out other teams’ enforcers. There are a lot of tough customers in our league and now there are some new guys coming in which will be exciting. The truth of the matter is I have no problem throwing down the gloves if they want to prove themselves.”

Whilst Brett Clouthier plays a specific role, when required, for the Manchester Phoenix, he also knows that the team is put together with another purpose in mind, to score goals, win games and entertain the supporters in the stands. So with a largely new team being assembled by player coach Tony Hand, how does Cloots assess the summer recruiting? “Naturally, I look at the players when I hear their names released and players ask around, but I really don’t know too much about the new guys Tony has brought in this year, I just know the guys that I played with last year. I know Tony takes a lot of time researching and recruiting these guys, so I know they must be great players. I'm really excited to meet and play with all my new teammates, part of the fun will be getting to know them and helping them settle in. Our primary goal is to win and with a bunch of first year guys, to England, coming over to play, I'm sure that’s exactly what they’ll want to do too. It’s only a couple of weeks now, I can’t wait to get back, get training with the boys ready to put on a show for the fans in Manchester.”

Brett Clouthier

Brett Clouthier "can’t wait to get back, get training with the boys ready to put on a show for the fans"
(Image: Richard Murray)

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