Time to brush up on those beachball jokes.
The Chicago Wolves open up camp on Friday with 49 players ready to impress GM Wendell Young and head coach Scott Arniel. That includes 23 players from Vancouver and 12 of which played for the Wolves last year. Lorne Henning and Stan Smyl will be there too. GMMG and Vignealt make the trek out next week.
(We'll pause for the necessary moment of levity this situation demands.)
Of course it's not fair to boil Cloutier's entire resume down to either his worst moment or lengthy list of injuries. A gold medalist at the World Juniors in 1995, his 109 NHL wins is still 4th best in franchise history, trailing only Luongo, McLean and Brodeur. His .906 SV% is good enough for eighth best, his 2.42 GAA is tied for fifth best and his 14 SO's are third best. Those aren't horrible numbers in the slightest. Even on the strong 2002-03 Vancouver squad it's best to remember he had some pylons in front of him (Malik & Baron) along with a wandering Jovocop and a barking Marc Crawford who never met a defensive strategy he couldn't completely undermine.
However - not that dissimilar to Roberto Luongo - people will look back and remember the low-lights first: the injuries, the Lidstrom goal, the 15 goals he surrendered in the final three games again the Wild in the second round of the 2002-03 playoffs.
Since he left the NHL he's helped out the Corpus Christi IceRays of the Central Hockey League before becoming the goaltending coach for the OHL's Barrie Colts. It should be noted the Colts finished deal last in Cloutier's first season as goaltending coach, but much of that was due to an influx of rookies and injuries. Last season the Colts were much better and Cloutier seemed to work well with goalie Mathias Niederberger.