Dan Cleary was in the press box for Detroit’s first 12 games this season so, when finally called upon Wednesday night, he knew he needed to take advantage of the opportunity.
Which he did.
Cleary scored midway through the second period of a 4-3 OT loss to the Rangers two nights ago. That, combined with his overall outing — four hits in just over nine minutes of ice time — earned him another nod tonight against the Devils (Tomas Jurco and Joakim Andersson will sit as the healthy scratches.)
It’s a nice bit of redemption for Cleary, though it’s probably too quick to start handing out back-pats. The 35-year-old is often maligned by Red Wings fans and his new deal this summer — a one-year, $1.5 million pact — was met with criticism, which only grew louder when Cleary couldn’t get on the lineup sheet for the first 12 games of the season.
Then came Wednesday’s game against the Rangers, and Mike Babcock’s reason for inserting Cleary. From MLive:
“A big part of what Dan Cleary is supposed to provide here is leadership and helping young guys be better. I’m sure he can do that.”
Babcock said Cleary will skate alongside Drew Miller and Luke Glendening in warmups.
Cleary, 35, missed the second half of last season with chronic knee issues before signing a one-year deal to return for a 10th season with the Red Wings.
“Here’s his opportunity, right?” Babcock said. “So what do you do with it? I’m going to watch just like you. I’m going to see what happens tonight. I’m about winning. When you win, I don’t make many changes.
“I think he’s one of these guys who can help people around him be better.”
Even though Detroit lost to the Rangers, Cleary did enough to warrant another crack tonight. It’ll be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out moving forward but for now, the grizzled vet is back in the mix.
Jay Bouwmeester will not play again for Blues this season
The defenseman, who began the press conference by thanking the training staffs of the Blues and Ducks, will not play again this season, according to general manager Doug Armstrong. While a comeback this season is out of reach, Bouwmeester has not closed the door on his future.
“There’s been a lot going on,” he said. “I think that’s something I’m going to definitely have to evaluate, but to say I’ve done that, I wouldn’t say fully yet. There’s decisions I’m going to have to make. That’ll come later.”
“We talked about longer term things that may or may not happen and both feel that it’s February,” added Armstrong. “You don’t have to make long term decisions at this point. He’s going to take time and again back in with his family and get around the team and he’ll address those things as the summer progresses.”
Bouwmeester, who will turn 37 in September, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He was revived with defibrillator and quickly taken from Honda Center to a local hospital. He later had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator procedure to restore the normal rhythm of his heart.
“I’m at the point now where I feel pretty good,” Bouwmeester said. “That’s kind of the weird thing about this is you go from something that happened totally out of the blue and unexpected to being in the hospital for a couple of days and then now there’s some restrictions as to what I can do.”
Everything about the timing fits the soap opera narrative of “As the Maple Leaf turns …”
Toronto lost Muzzin for a month in the first game after signing him to a contract extension.
It’s also the first game following a trade deadline that mixed the good with the bad. On one hand, it turns out that keeping Tyson Barrie was wise, warts and all. On the other, GM Kyle Dubas’ critics will argue that he still didn’t do enough.
Oh yeah, the Maple Leafs follow up this potentially devastating injury with an enormous Thursday game against the Panthers in Florida.
If you want a glimpse at Toronto’s confidence level in certain players, consider how Sheldon Keefe deployed Sandin on Tuesday. Through two periods, Sandin received just 5:27 time on ice. Once it was clear Muzzin wouldn’t return, Sandin’s ice time skyrocketed to 9:34 during the third period alone.
Dicey stuff, but what’s the best approach, Zen-like, or otherwise? What’s a good mantra for the Leafs going forward?
Accepting reality of the Maple Leafs defense with Muzzin out, and considering Panthers
Despite wildly different approaches and markets, the Maple Leafs and Panthers boast notably similar strengths and weaknesses. After all, they are the only teams in the NHL who’ve scored and allowed 200+ goals so far this season.
So maybe the Maple Leafs should embrace the perception of their most prominent, healthy defenseman in Tyson Barrie, and their perceived identity as a team that needs to outscore their problems, in general?
There’s also the potential silver lining of realizing that players like Sandin and Liljegren might be further along in their respective developments than Toronto realized. Interestingly, Dubas sort of touched on this during his trade deadline presser, before Muzzin was injured.
” … We need to see how our own guys develop,” Dubas said, via Pension Plan Puppets’ transcript. “In a perfect world your own guys develop and quell your concerns you have about the roster and that people on the outside may have about them as well.”
Both Sandin and Liljegren carry pedigree as first-rounders, and have produced some offenseat the AHL level. Perhaps they can bring almost as much to the table as they risk taking away with mistakes?
Obstacles, and gauntlets thrown down on top Maple Leafs
When you dig deep on the Maple Leafs’ numbers, you get a more complicated look at their hit-and-miss defense. Either way, they need better goaltending going forward — even if that leads to awkward choices.
If patterns continue, there will only be more twists and turns for the Maple Leafs. Maybe they can end up better after facing all of these challenges, but either way, it doesn’t look easy, and might not always be pretty.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Peter Laviolette is returning to the bench after being selected as the coach of the United States men’s national team competing at the world hockey championships in May.
The move was announced by USA Hockey on Wednesday, and comes seven weeks after Laviolette was fired by the Nashville Predators.
Laviolette ranks 16th in NHL wins with 637 covering four teams over 18 seasons, including the 2006 Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes. He also coached the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers.
From Massachusetts, the 55-year-old Laviolette also has extensive experience representing the U.S. as a coach and player on the international stage.
The tournament being held in Switzerland will mark the fourth time Laviolette has coached the U.S. at the world championships, and first since 2014, when the Americans lost to Czech Republic in the quarterfinals in Belarus. He was also U.S. coach in 2004, when the team won a bronze medal, and ’05.
Laviolette also coached the national team to an eighth-place finish at the 2006 Olympics.
As a player, Laviolette was a two-time Olympian in representing the U.S. in 1988 and 1994, when he served as team captain.
”Peter is a terrific coach and someone who has had success wherever he’s been,” said USA Hockey’s John Vanbiesbrouck. ”We’re thrilled to have him back as head coach of our men’s national team.”
Team USA’s roster will begin being stocked once the NHL’s regular season concludes during the first weekend in April. The Americans have been limited to winning just six bronze medals since a silver-medal finish in 1950.
The world championships are scheduled to run from May 8 to 24.