Why Is Dan Cloutier at the Detroit Red Wings' Training Camp?

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst ISeptember 14, 2009

The Detroit Red Wings, along with every other NHL club, opened their training camp this past weekend.

Taking the ice in Traverse City, MI were new players such as Patrick Eaves, returning Wings Jason Williams and Todd Bertuzzi and young hopefuls like defenseman Jakub Kindl.

For some reason, Dan Cloutier was also among those skating with the Wings.

The goaltender, who has been out of hockey for the better part of two years, contacted the team last month about a tryout which resulted in an invite to training camp.

But why?

Why would Detroit need a guy like Cloutier at training camp when Chris Osgood is the designated No. 1 and Jimmy Howard is finally getting his shot as the backup?

One might think that Cloutier will be there to "push" Howard, to make sure the youngster has the proper motivation to perform well enough to be the undisputed backup.

But really, what sense does this make?

Dan Cloutier can't stop a beach ball, has never won anything, and couldn't keep his job in LA (his last NHL destination), despite their lack of any other veteran goaltender to take his place.

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Jimmy Howard has been in the minors for four years now and needs to be handed the backup job, along with 20 or so starts, in order to prove he belongs in the NHL.

Dan Cloutier has unequivocally proved he doesn't.

Yes, Detroit is known for their ability to "restore" players and make them key contributors, Dan Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson come to mind.

But Cloutier is like a beat up 1973 Dodge Dart. Yeah, you could restore it, but what the hell for?

I mean no disrespect to Cloutier the man, but the goalie? 

Please, his numbers suck (139-142-33 record, 2.77 GAA and a .899 SV%) and the only time he had even moderate success was in Vancouver playing behind Marcus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Morrison and Ed Jovanovski who were all in their prime.

Granted, the Wings didn't reach out to him, it isn't costing them anything to have him there and, if by some miracle he emerges as a solid goaltender, he would be yet another amazing project taken on by GM Ken Holland.

But seriously, what good is having a guy like Dan Cloutier in training camp going to do anyone in Detroit?