When you think Dan Cloutier, most think of this:
But after his tenure with the Canucks, ok and a few close calls…not quite like his days with NYR, Clouts established himself for a time as one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. He’s hung up his everyday skates and has moved back in with the Vancouver Canucks. Rollie Melanson has relocated east to be with his ailing mother, and has vacated his spot so the Canucks checked in to the Cloutier Hotel. The present gets a fresh face and Thatcher Demko gets a Canucks alum as a mentor.
This is a good thing.
Even though Rollie is out, he’s not gone completely. Melanson is still accessible but will be focusing more on helping goalies on the other side of the continent. As we all know, Dan Cloutier is no stranger to the Canucks and was a win away from the Conference Finals. He had injury problems but I still feel he was given an unfair shake as he was let go.
Cloutier’s aggresive, sometimes unpredictable style combined with his flare for the dramatic (where have we seen that before) made him a fan favourite and helped steal his fair share of games back in the day for the Canucks. Now, he’s the mentor to a current aging goaltender in Ryan Miller who could use some pointers on staying fresh as his career winds down. In Jacob Markstrom, Cloutier will be able to take what works with Marky and I believe, get him to be more of the aggressor towards his shooter.
Melanson got his goalies to play deeper and that gives the goalie the ability to play his posts tighter but doesn’t necessarily cut down the angle as much. I can’t see a dramatic culture change or anything but if he brings any of his game to his current students, at the very least, these guys will steal a few that they may have just lost last season.
The bonus of having a reliable goaltender is that with a growing team like the Canucks, mistakes are going to be made more often than not and the last line of defense will have to be on point. In Cloutier’s prime, he was a gamer in every sense of the word; he didn’t like to lose and he knew when he had to be the star that night.
Clouts also had Salo, Jovanovski, Ohlund and a few other notable d-men that he could rely on but having Hutton, Tanev, Tryamkin and I believe Dan Hamhuis, his work will show early on.
Not lost in all this is what Thatcher Demko will get out of all of this. Melanson will most definitely be working with Demko on a periodical basis and what that spells is ALL STAR. Rollie took a very capable Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, tweaked some of their tendencies and turned them into Jennings trophy winners, All Stars and shut out beasts.
Demko has already proven he can be all of those things and getting valuable lessons and ice time with the former Canucks tendy talker will reap all the benefits, like all of them.
Back to Cloutier though; he knows the juggernaut that is the Vancouver hockey market and having lived through just as many bad times as the next Canucks tender, he knows what it will take to get past the hump. From travel to taking chances, Dan Cloutier is a fantastic pickup for Vancouver. Aside from a handful of goalies (Hedberg, Noronen, Auld, Flaherty) the Canucks have done pretty well in net.
The “Goalie Graveyard” has buried many names but the talent managed to keep coming somehow. As this wave of new talent is ushered in between the pipes, Dan Cloutier has a chance to reinvent himself and become the textbook for the future in Vancouver’s nets.
No more beach balls, no more lottery balls; basically no more balls.
At the very least, the Canucks will have a 1.000 SA% vs. centre ice shots. We can be sure of that.