Dan Cleary

Yes, in 2015: Red Wings sign Cleary to one-year deal


A lot has changed this summer for the Detroit Red Wings, but to the dismay of a number of their fans, they’ll still employ aging forward Dan Cleary.

Just to clarify: some robot didn’t auto-publish a PHT post from 2012. This contract is for the 2015-16 season, and HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman reports that it’s worth $950K.

Here’s another statement that seems evident from the news alone: Ken Holland is still the Red Wings’ GM.

Cleary, 36, appeared in 17 games last season, collecting a goal and an assist.

Is there a chance it might not count against the cap if Cleary fails to make the team?

Beyond playing the experience/loyalty card, the best thing you can say about Cleary from 2014-15 is that his possession stats were decent, although much of that may be attributed to the fact that he began 61 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone.

That’s the nicest thing you can say. Here are some of the more amusing things that were said:

Question: Did Cleary ever make up a song about shampoo and conditioner bottles trash-talking each other?

Holland, Cleary will meet next week to decide future in Detroit


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.

Datsyuk out again with groin injury


Pavel Datsyuk is too hurt to play.


Red Wings coach Mike Babcock confirmed to reporters that Datsyuk will miss tonight’s game in Columbus. Veteran forward Dan Cleary will apparently draw into the lineup.

Datsyuk, 36, has appeared in just 10 of Detroit’s 17 games this season. He missed the first five with a separated shoulder. Then, after returning for seven, he missed two more with a groin injury, before returning again.

It’s that same groin issue that will reportedly keep him out of the lineup tonight.

The Red Wings also play Thursday in Winnipeg.

Five team stats you may find interesting


+28 — The Penguins’ goal differential. By far the best in the NHL, with second-place Tampa Bay at +17. During Pittsburgh’s current seven-game winning streak, the Pens have outscored their opposition a whopping 32-8. The worst goal differential in the NHL belongs to, not coincidentally, Buffalo, at an almost-unfathomable -34. The Sabres have been outscored 11-1 in their two meetings with the Penguins.

1 — Victories for the Dallas Stars when they outshoot their opponents, which they’ve done seven times. The latest loss in that scenario came Saturday when they outshot the Sharks, 40-29, but lost 5-3. Goaltending has been the obvious culprit in Big D, as Kari Lehtonen (4-3-4, .904 SV%) and Anders Lindback (0-3-0, .852) have struggled. Stars GM Jim Nill has even been forced to deny rumors he was interested in signing Martin Brodeur.

5 — Losses for the Avalanche in either overtime or the shootout, tied with Detroit for the most in the NHL. Last season, Colorado finished with a league-high 15 victories in the same category, including 10 wins in overtime.

20 — Third-period goals for the Flames, the most in the league. Calgary scored three times in the final frame during Saturday’s 6-4 win at Florida. As a result of their strong third-period play, the Flames have won three games that they’ve trailed after 40 minutes. Only the Rangers and Habs can say the same thing.

0 — Number of major penalties for the Detroit Red Wings. (At the other end of the spectrum? San Jose, with 12.) According to hockeyfights.com, the last time a Wings player fought in a regular-season game was Jan. 9, when Dan Cleary dropped the gloves with the Sharks’ Scott Hannan.

After scoring in season debut, Cleary gets another game


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.