It’s no secret that I think Cal Clutterbuck has one of the best names in the league.
But that’s not why I’m happy the Islanders signed him to a five-year extension. I’m glad they made the commitment to Cal because I think he’s the type of player the team needs to hold on to. Now before you get all feisty, that doesn’t mean other players who are no longer Islanders weren’t a good fit for the team. I’m not the GM, but when it comes to “character guys,” all three who moved on during free agency this past summer fell under that category in my mind.
But that’s over now. Back to Clutterbuck.
Yes, he’s a character guy. Yes, he plays a physical game. And yes, he has some offensive flair. I also think it says a lot about the team and where it’s headed that Clutterbuck did not want to wait until free agency this summer. When I spoke with him about the deal this weekend, he was clear that he wanted to stay in New York and believed in the players and the team.
Over the last two-plus seasons, I’ve interviewed Cal countless times, but some of the most interesting things I’ve witnessed about him happened when the camera wasn’t rolling.
Here are a few that stand out.
1. He’s the music man. Ever wonder who’s in charge of the Isles warm-up tunes? Or who picks the music the players listen to in the dressing room before and after games? Well, most of the time it’s Clutterbuck. It’s a pretty eclectic mix of rock, rap and top-40 hits. His iPod playlist is impressive, and when the players like a new song, Cal adds it to the rotation.
2. He’s really funny. Often times people will ask me who is the funniest player on the team. There are several Isles who have great personalities. Johnny Boychuk likes to poke fun at me and goofs around in the room with his teammates. Many of the players would say Anders Lee is one of the funniest guys on the team. But I still think Clutterbuck has a great sense of humor. He’s dry, don’t get me wrong. You’ve seen him in interviews when he barely cracks a smile, but when the camera isn’t on him, he can really make you laugh. Plus, I will never forget my first season covering the team when I asked him what he brought on the long road trip that he couldn’t live without. He looked at me deadpanned and said, “An extra pair of underwear.” I couldn’t help but giggle. Really, just one extra pair? He also told me during that same interview about how former teammate in Minnesota Brent Burns once brought his pet snakes on the plane for a trip to California, so he could bring them to his handler. I’m still not sure if it was a joke or the truth, but he had me in stitches.
3. He’s one of the best chirpers in the league. Clutterbuck isn’t afraid to use his body, but he’s also not afraid to use his words to get inside other players’ heads. I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone in the league get under their opponents skin better than Cal. Once he has them mad, that sly smile slides across his face as he skates to the bench or watches the other guy head to the box.
4. His hair is always on point. Cal can’t take full credit for this. His wife Cassie is a professional hair stylist and cuts his hair at home. Cal told me they stand in the bathroom and discuss what his vision is and she says what she thinks. Twenty minutes later, bam, his latest hair creation. Cal does have a great sense of style, but I have to say kudos to Cassie for keeping him on the cutting edge with his hair.
So, If you were holding out on buying that Clutterbuck Islanders jersey for a Christmas or Hanukkah gift, you’re now in the clear. Cal gave Isles fans an early holiday gift with a five-year extension that keeps him wearing blue-and-orange through the 2022-23 season.