Here’s to Cleary

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

J uly 1, 2008, was prob­a­bly the most ex­cit­ing day in re­cent mem­ory for Har­bour Grace res­i­dents. That day, River­head na­tive Daniel Cleary be­came the first hockey player from New­found­land and Labrador to share the Stan­ley Cup with his home­town. Thou­sands came out to con­grat­u­late Cleary, with many trav­el­ling from other parts of the province to get a glimpse of what he helped the Detroit Red Wings earn that year.

Cleary’s ca­reer was thought to be a bust be­fore he at­tended the Red Wings’ train­ing camp in 2005. A skilled scorer as a ju­nior player in the On­tario Hockey League, the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers drafted him in the first round of the 1997 NHL en­try draft. How­ever, suc­cess gen­er­ally eluded him in the sea­sons he played prior to join­ing the Red Wings.

His ca­reer blos­somed in Detroit. Cleary’s speed and will­ing­ness to con­tin­u­ally pur­sue the puck fit in nicely with the Red Wings puck-pos­ses­sion style of play. Coach Mike Bab­cock was com­fort­able us­ing him in ev­ery sort of sit­u­a­tion imag­in­able. For the ma­jor­ity of his 10 sea­sons in Detroit, Cleary was an es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ent to the team’s suc­cess.

How­ever, the 36-year-old has reached a point in his ca­reer where his con­tin­ued use­ful­ness to the team on the ice is in doubt. His last two sea­sons were slowed down by in­juries, and even when Cleary was healthy, Bab­cock elected to turn to other, younger play­ers in­stead of the ag­ing vet­eran. He only ap­peared in 17 games last sea­son and did not dress for any play­off games.

When he signed a one-year con­tract with the Red Wings for the 2013-14 sea­son, it was widely re­ported he de­cided to stick with the team he knew best in­stead of ac­cept­ing a three-year con­tract on the ta­ble else­where. It’s be­lieved this was done with the un­der­stand­ing Detroit would con­tinue to sign Cleary to one-year con­tracts un­til at least this com­ing sea­son.

In light of his play the last two years, there are many Red Wings fans speak­ing out online about the need for Red Wings gen­eral man­ager Ken Hol­land to in­stead give young play­ers a chance. The thought there is loy­alty can only go so far.

Cleary has played al­most 1,000 games in the NHL. His con­tracts have earned him mil­lions of dol­lars. Tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion how the Red Wings treated other vet­eran play­ers over the last decade, the team would likely be more than happy to find a place for him within its or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Cleary though has said he still wants to play. Hol­land re­cently told re­porters there’s a chance he could re-sign him.

If Cleary’s play­ing days are over, he should be proud of his ac­com­plish­ments. He’s inspired count­less young play­ers back home and ex­celled through hard work and per­se­ver­ance.

It’s ob­vi­ous Cleary’s earned a great deal of re­spect from the Red Wings or­ga­ni­za­tion. Whether it’s on the ice or in the stands hold­ing a clip­board as a scout, odds are the team will find a place for him next sea­son.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.