Born in Mont Laurier, Quebec on February 13th, 1974, Sylvain Cloutier spent a few games with the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1998-99 season. After three junior seasons with the Guelph Storm, Cloutier who was a 3rd draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, joined their farm club in Adirondack. For the bulk of the next five seasons Cloutier laboured in the American Hockey League, unable to earn a promotion to the big club in Detroit. Out of options in the Red Wing organization, Cloutier signed with the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent in August of 1998.
With the 'Hawks, Cloutier got his NHL opportunity, suiting up for seven games without registering a point. Cloutier changed addresses again at seasons end when he was claimed by the Atlanta Thrashers in the Expansion Draft.
Cloutier did not crack the Thrashers roster during training camp and was assigned to the International Hockey League. A month into his season, the Thrashers traded Cloutier to the New Jersey Devils, but again, Cloutier was unable to crack the NHL roster. Cloutier reported to their AHL club in Albany, where he would spend the next few seasons.