dan cloutier

Canucks Currently The “Centre” of Attention

Sure, the Canucks aren’t winning games in any regular fashion and there is a realistic chance they not only miss the playoffs but get a top-3 pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. What they ARE doing is keeping us entertained just enough to keep watching their second consecutive trainwreck season. Case in point, the Alex Edler knuckler from centre ice on Saturday. I didn’t even know it happened when it did and I was watching this game.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

This wasn’t the first time the Canucks were involved in such a goal; we all remember the infamous Dan Cloutier gaffe against the Red Wings in 2002:

Whoops, wrong clip.

Here it is:

Obviously, these aren’t the only terrible centre-ice goals to ever go in but they’re definitely memorable. What is even more memorable is how each of the goaltenders has faired after they have let in one of these goals or something similar.

Let’s start with Dan the Man:

He was never able to truly shake this one off as it went with him everywhere he went. The 2003 playoffs could have changed all of that a year later but the team collapse against the Minnesota Wild was the last great chance Cloutier had to do serious damage. He played two more full seasons after the 2002 playoffs and then it all went down from there.

In his last five seasons, Cloutier averaged a 3.05 GAA and a 0.892 SA%. Easily rattled, Cloutier would suffer setbacks in multiple playoff and regular season games that would ultimately bury the Canucks in each occasion. Ankle, groin and knee injuries would plague Clouts before ultimately losing his job in Vancouver and sliding slowly into the abyss of retirement.

Oddly enough, Cloutier’s last two seasons in Vancouver were quite impressive as he notched seven shutouts to equal the 2002 season where he had seven that year. Afterward, goose eggs would elude Clouts forever. He was a regular season machine but he never really won the big game.

In all fairness, Dan Cloutier didn’t deserve the extent of criticism he received; it’s a shame his career slid the way it did.

Another prime example of watching your career die is Vesa Toskala. At the time, the Leafs were in the midst of their crisis years (have they even ended yet?) and this just cemented how bad things were going. Take a look:

After that goal in 2008, Toskala would only play in 32 games after that season. He is in Finland now and no one cares anymore. Sub .900 SA% seasons followed as did a catastrophic 3.66 GAA that next year. Once Toskala went to Calgary it was basically over.

Remember Tommy Salo?

A reliable netminder who will only be remembered for two things: the fight with Dan Cloutier which he lost HEAVILY and the goal he let in off his noggin in the 2002 Olympics against Belarus. To be fair, Salo was getting close to the end of his career so to say his numbers declined because of that goal would be wrong; he had 13 shutouts to finish out his career including six that same season. 

I guess looking back, these goals didn’t necessarily define their careers completely but if anything went wrong we all had something to fall back to blame them for.

If you check out the remaining gaffes you’ll see that many of the goalies involved (Patrick Roy, Chris Osgood, Martin Brodeur, etc.) all have Stanley Cups despite their brain fart moment on the ice.

As far as the Canucks are concerned, I don’t have enough time to go through the goofs Roberto Luongo has made in net. Off his shoulder, off the glass, behind the net, you name it… Luongo did it.

It would be great if he somehow had a swan song with the Florida Panthers and got one more kick at the can.

I can’t think of a specific cringe-worthy goal with the current Canucks goalie tandem but really, the entire season has basically amounted to that.

At least they were the “centre” of attention for one night.

Follow me on Twitter: @always90four

photo – Calgary Herald

DAN, DEMKO! Back At It Again With The Van Goalies

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 motherand 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.