He left more money on the table in Philadelphia, but the lure of staying in his adopted hometown of Detroit was too much for Daniel Cleary.
The unrestricted free agent forward from Riverhead, Harbour Grace informed The Telegram via text shortly before noon today he is heading to Traverse City, Mich. and the Red Wings training camp where he will sign a one-year, $1.75 million contract tonight.
Thus ends an eventful five days when the 34-year-old winger agreed to attend the Philadelphia Flyers training camp on a professional tryout and later sign a three-year, $8.25 million deal when the Flyers freed up salary cap space.
Cleary let it be known his heart was in Detroit, where he spent the past eight years and won a Stanley Cup in 2008.
Problem is, the Red Wings also face salary cap issues — they were over the cap by just over a half million dollars before Cleary’s deal — and have 17 forwards on the roster. Detroit has said it will carry 14.
Philly is also over the cap, by just over $2 million, but with defenceman Chris Pronger slated to go on long-term injured reserve, freeing up $5 million, the Flyers were able to offer a guarantee.
Cleary, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock had one last meeting Wednesday in Traverse City in a last-ditch attempt to work something out.
That resulted in Cleary’s new deal, which now puts Detroit $2,387,879 (according to capgeek.com) above the cap, highest in the National Hockey League.
How the Red Wings will manage their cap crunch is anyone’s guess, although Detroit hopes it will work itself out in camp over the next two or three weeks.
Daniel Cleary is returning to the Detroit Red Wings after all.
Cleary told The Telegram’s Sports Editor Robin Short via text that he is headed to Traverse City, Mich., and the Red Wings training camp today.
He will sign a contract with the Red Wings tonight.
It was a last minute turnaround as Cleary was to head to Philadelphia and the training camp of the Flyers after being offered a deal by that team.
But Cleary made no bones about wanting to stay in Detroit. It is where Cleary’s hockey career was resurrected, where he won a Stanley Cup — the first Newfoundlander to do so — and a place where he had settled with his family, only a few hours from his wife's hometown of Hamilton, Ont.
And the Red Wings badly wanted to keep Cleary.
On Sunday, Detroit general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock — a huge fan of Cleary's since he made Babcock's team as a walk-on in 2005 — made several calls to Cleary trying to convince him to at least head to Traverse City, Mich., where the Wings will stage training camp, on a professional tryout until some cap space was freed up.