After a frustrating year in which he played just 17 games, Dan Cleary will meet with Red Wings GM Ken Holland next week to decide what’s next for him in the Motor City.
It could end up being a pretty intriguing conversation, per the Free Press:
A situation that bears the handprint of former coach Mike Babcock has put the Wings in the position of being honor-bound to keep Cleary, 36, aboard, even as he is coming off a season that saw him play just 17 games, producing two points.
This debacle began two years ago. The Wings had offered Cleary a three-year, $6.25-million contract before he became unrestricted July 1. He declined. The Wings then signed Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson, leaving little space under the salary cap. Then Cleary didn’t sign with anyone. September rolled around. The Flyers offered Cleary a three-year deal for $8.25 million, but Cleary then decided he wanted to stay in Detroit.
He ended up flying to Traverse City, where the Wings already had begun training camp. He met in a hangar with Holland and Babcock. Holland pointed to a near maxed-out budget. Babcock pushed hard for Cleary to be signed. What resulted was a one-year, $1.75-million deal with the understanding the Wings would take into consideration what Cleary left on the Flyers table.
After playing out that $1.75 million deal, Cleary re-signed in Detroit last summer to a one-year, $1.5 million pact.
So, essentially, the Wings are now heading into the final year of an unspoken three-year agreement that’s (sorta) aimed at repaying what Clearly left in Philly. The options for Holland, according to the Free Press, include signing Cleary to another one-year deal, then waiving him if he can’t make the team out of camp. There’s also speculation Holland could possibly offer Cleary a front-office position, though it’d be at a decidedly smaller salary than he’d get as a player.