Cloutier gone until spring

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Dan Cloutier's sprained knee is not a sprained knee.

Vancouver Canucks' No. 1 goaltender returned to the ice for practice on Saturday but doctors told him yesterday he'll need surgery to repair a damaged anterior cruciate ligament. He'll go under the knife tomorrow and be gone until April.

Cloutier was injured Nov. 20 during the first period of a 3-2 win at Anaheim. He was 8-3 in 13 games with a 3.18 goals against average. The injury means Cloutier will not have a fourth consecutive season with 30 or more wins.

Alex Auld is firmly ensconced as the Canucks' new starting goaltender, though general manager Dave Nonis might be in a deal-making mode for a veteran netminder.

Canucks promoted goaltender Maxime Ouellet from Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League earlier yesterday in advance of the Cloutier announcement. Ouellet, 24, is 2-1 for the Moose since the Canucks acquired him from the Washington Capitals for a fifth-round draft pick.


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