Cleary, Wings blanked by Flyers

Robin Short
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Riverhead, Harbour Grace product held pointless in first game against Philly since he turned down a three-year offer from the club

Daniel Cleary turned his back on $6.5 million from the Philadelphia Flyers to remain with the Detroit Red Wings last fall, no doubt ticking off a rabid, black and orange fan base.

The Red Wings made their first appearance of the season at First Union Centre Tuesday, but Cleary need not have worried about being on the receiving end of raucous South Philly catcalls.

That’s because Flyers fans were too busy cheering their own team’s scoring exploits.

Scott Hartnell had two goals and an assist, and captain Claude Giroux had a goal and a pair of helpers as the Flyers blanked the Red Wings 5-0 to snap a three-game losing skid.

Cleary, who started on a line with Daniel Alfredsson and Darren Helm before Detroit coach Mike Babcock mixed things up in the third, had a tough time of it, finishing the night minus-two.

Adam Hall and Sean Couturier also scored for the Flyers, and Steve Mason stopped 33 shots for the shutout.

The Red Wings have not won in Philly since 1997, although the schedule had been somewhat slanted as Detroit was in the Western Conference.

Cleary, the 35-year-old veteran winger from Riverhead, Harbour Grace, was an unrestricted free agent last summer.

After going most of the off-season without signing a contract, the Flyers offered Cleary a professional tryout, and later an $8.25 million deal when Philadelphia freed up salary cap space.

However, Cleary bucked the professional sports trend, agreeing to re-sign with the Red Wings for one year at $1.75 million.

It hasn’t been a year to write home about for Cleary, who will be an unrestricted free agent again in July. He has only four goals and four assists in 52 games, and the Red Wings are on the outside looking in at a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The loss Tuesday dropped Detroit to 23-19-11.

As for Cleary, Tuesday’s game was the eighth in a row he’s failed to collect a point. He has only a goal and an assist in the last 17 games.

Organizations: Flyers, Red Wings, First Union Centre Sports/Hockey

Geographic location: Detroit, Philadelphia

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