Cloutier Brings Valuable Experience to Canucks
Here is a video of Dan Cloutier letting in a goal from center ice in the playoffs. Phew, I’m glad that’s out of the way now. Tuesday’s news that the Canucks had hired Cloutier to be the team’s goaltending consultant was met largely with jokes about beach balls and the like on Twitter, but the truth of the matter is that the former starting goaltender’s time in Vancouver should prove valuable to the prospects that he will be working with in Chicago. The Canucks did not officially release the scope of his duties but we’ll assume it will include some on-ice work and reporting to the parent club. Aside from that, Mike Gillis has done a pretty good job surrounding the organization with quality people which should be a vote of confidence for Cloutier.
Many people who criticize bringing Cloutier back in a management/coaching position point to the fact that he didn’t have the greatest NHL career. The reality is that it doesn’t take a hall-of-fame worthy goaltender to be a great coach. The people who keep an eye on their respective teams goaltending situation include past good – but not great – goalies such as Bob Essensa, Mike Dunham, Corey Schwab and even local fan favourite Kirk McLean. Francois Allaire, who is/was considered one of the best goaltending coaches in the league didn’t even play in the NHL.
Cloutier wasn’t one of the bigger goaltenders when he played(he’s listed at 6’1, but that has to be exaggerated) and instead had to rely more on reflexes along with solid positional play, a style of goaltending that has become more prevalent across the league now. That’s not to suggest he was a man before his time or anything like that, but meant to acknowledge that he will be able to relate well with today’s brand of goaltending.
When Cloutier was playing in his prime the majority of goaltenders were still using the butterfly to block pucks with equipment as big as what they could get away with (I’m looking at you Giguere). The point being, Cloutier’s instinctive play should allow him to make small changes in goaltenders like Eddie Lack and Joe Cannata. From the looks of it Cloutier has already had success with this while working with the Barrie Colts.
Perhaps most importantly, if Cloutier is going to be working primarily with the prospects in Chicago, it makes perfect sense that he shares his experience with them on playing in the fish bowl that is Vancouver. He’ll be able to provide with valuable insight on how to get themselves mentally prepared to play and stay in Vancouver. While Vancouver has been termed the ‘goalie graveyard’, few goaltenders have been as heavily criticized and ridiculed like Cloutier which is something he’ll be able to draw upon when working with the Wolves. Such was not lost on Cloutier in an article in The Province
“If you look back, there’s not too many things I didn’t go through,” Cloutier said. “I’ve been a backup, I’ve been a starter. I’ve been the starter who has been pulled. I’ve been celebrated on the back page. And I’ve been bad.
“I’ve been in tough markets, won the world juniors, and played where no one cared.
“I’ve been in the AHL, and suffered through injuries. I’ve been through it all.
His attitude on this ice could also prove to be an example for younger goaltenders as long as they are able to read between the lines. Cloutier competitiveness on the ice and his willingness to stand up for himself and his teammates should be valuable examples to draw from as long as they’re willing to discount some exhibits like chasing after Dwayne Roloson or beating the crap out of Tommy Salo. In press scrums after the game you never heard Cloutier throw his team under the bus. That despite Marc Crawford’s game plan to run and gun every night.
Some may point to the fact that Cloutier has landed a fairly important job without a lot of experience in a similar field but I prefer to look at that as a positive. By that I mean that Cloutier is not that far removed from the league and can still share and relate to today’s game. He played his last game in Vancouver only 6 years ago in 2006 and last played for the Kings in 2008.
Training camp opens for Chicago on Friday and without the NHL starting anytime soon it will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on.