In a move that caused quite a few people to do a double take, the Canucks re-signed Dan Cloutier on Tuesday. No, not to play goal, but to become the team’s new goaltending consultant. Cloutier will work mostly with their AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, as Rolie Melanson is remaining as the goaltending coach in Vancouver.
This move is getting a lot more publicity than it deserves, partially because we have nothing better to talk about (you can thank the lockout for that), but of course it’s also because of Dan Cloutier’s history in Vancouver.
Isn’t it funny that the group largely responsible for the city of Vancouver falling in love with their Canucks once again is now viewed with so much disdain? Todd Bertuzzi, Matt Cooke and Dan Cloutier were all part of the core group of players in the early 2000s that gave the city an injection of life once again. Prior to their arrival, Vancouver was apathetic towards the Canucks. Those three players were major parts of the team in those days, and gave their all for the Canucks. Yet, Todd Bertuzzi and Matt Cooke are likely to get booed any time they return to Vancouver and any mention of Dan Cloutier gets ridiculed. Were those players perfect? Of course not. But they clearly gave it their all and didn’t leave on their own accord. They were major parts of some pretty good teams (in the regular season anyway). We didn’t boo them then, and we shouldn’t now.
Dan Cloutier wasn’t a great goaltender in Vancouver, and he completely collapsed under the pressure during the 2002 playoffs when he let in a goal from Nick Lidstrom and then was terrible the rest of the way in the first round against Detroit. But lets not confuse that series with his entire Canucks career. The Nick Lidstrom goal is what we associate with Cloutier (and believe me I remember it well) but what should define Cloutier’s career in Vancouver is injuries.
Cloutier was brutal in the 2003 playoffs, but how healthy was he? He was injured in game 3 versus Calgary in 2004 and missed the majority of the 2005-06 season, once again, due to injury. Cloutier was a young goalie thrust into the spotlight without any kind of veteran mentor backup goalie to help him out, and that’s on Brian Burke. That also caused Marc Crawford to play the bejeezus out of him during the regular season. It’s no wonder he was often playing hurt by the time April came around.
Cloutier wasn’t the second coming of Patrick Roy, but he was also mismanaged by Brian Burke and Marc Crawford. He also played in front of a team that had about as much defensive conscience as Michel Therrien’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ok, maybe they weren’t that bad. But Brent Sopel was a fixture on the shutdown defence pairing for most of Cloutier’s tenure in Vancouver.
Now, is this move a good move by the Canucks? That remains to be seen. I have no idea what Cloutier will be like as a goalie consultant, but his ability as a player is likely to have little affect on how he’ll be as a consultant. His intelligence and knowledge of the game will be what matters and his experience in the high pressure goalie market that is Vancouver is likely to be an asset. So enough with the jokes, Cloutier is back.