Cleary follows his heart, re-signs with Wings

Robin Short
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Harbour Grace native passes up generous offer from Philadelphia Flyers to return to Detroit

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 Detroit Red Wings’ Daniel Cleary passes the puck in front of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick during a game last season. Rather than ink a generous three-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, the right-winger from Riverhead, Harbour Grace re-signed with the Wings late Wednesday night.

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 bucked the professional sports trend last night, agreeing to less money by signing a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Red Wings. He informed The Telegram of his decision via text just before noon Thursday.

Thus ends an eventful five days when the 34-year-old winger reluctantly walked away from the Red Wings agreeing to attend the Philadelphia Flyers training camp on a professional tryout, and later ink a three-year, $8.25 million deal when the Flyers freed up salary cap space.

“Tuesday, I was ready to go to Philly,” Cleary told The Associated Press on Thursday. “And then I just couldn’t go. I decided to come out and meet with Babs (coach Mike Babcock) and Kenny (general manager Ken Holland) to get closure on the situation. I had to know deep in my heart, ’Was it going to happen?’ We figured out a way to get something to happen to get something signed.”

Cleary let it be known his heart was in Detroit, where he spent the past eight years and won a Stanley Cup in 2008. He maintains a year-round residence in the Detroit area, three hours from his wife’s hometown of Hamilton, Ont. Since the 2005-06 season, he has 160 career goals and 377 points in 869 NHL games.

“I’m a Red Wing to the bone, man,” he told The Telegram earlier this week. “I love going into the season knowing we have a legit chance to win a Cup.”

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.

Cleary’s new deal puts Detroit $2,387,879 (according to above the cap, highest in the National Hockey League.

Philly is also exceeding the salary 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.

“Good for him,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He obviously had eight years there and was hoping to continue the ride with them.”

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, with anything from injuries to trades.

“Over the next few weeks,” Holland told the Detroit Free Press, “we’re going to have to make some moves to get cap compliant, but we think we’re a better team with Clears.

“He’s valuable in the room. He's versatile on the wing.”

Even at 34 — considered to be getting on in years by pro hockey standards, although he hopes to play for another few years — Cleary remains a key figure in Detroit’s lineup. In last year’s lockout-shortened season, he registered nine goals and 15 points, and was the Red Wings’ second-leading point-getter in the playoffs.

“It’s been a long process,” Holland said. “I talked to Dan in July, just before free agency, and we couldn’t find a solution. Ultimately, we made some decisions. I know Dan had some other opportunities this week, and he made the decision he wants to come to Detroit on a one-year deal.

“We talked about my managing style and the way our ownership runs our team, with loyalty.”

— With files from The Associated Press



Tip your salary cap: Newfoundlanders set to earn close to $18-million combined this season

Daniel Cleary’s new one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings means a total payroll of $17,360,000 if eight Newfoundlanders play in the National Hockey League this season.

Rookie defenceman James Melindy of the Goulds is attending the Phoenix Coyotes training camp after finishing his junior career with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Moncton Wildcats last season. The Coyotes made Melindy the 88th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Melindy will likely report to the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates, but if he was to make the Coyotes, he is set to make $625,000 this season. His AHL pay will be $67,500.


The following are the contracts for Newfoundlanders attending NHL training camps (source

NAME    TEAM    2013-14 SALARY

Ryane Clowe    New Jersey Devils    $4.85 million (signed a 5-year, $24.25 million contract free agent contract in July)

Teddy Purcell    Tampa Bay Lightning    $4.5 million (first year of new 3-year extension at $4.5 million per)

Michael Ryder    New Jersey Devils    $3.5 million (signed a 2-year, $7 million contract free agent contract in July)

Daniel Cleary    Detroit Red Wings    $1.75 million (1-year deal)

Colin Greening    Ottawa Senators    $800,000 (recently signed a 3-year extension  for $7.95 million starting 2014-15)

Luke Adam    Buffalo Sabres    $735,000 (signed 1-year contract in July; 2-way deal will pay $65,000 if he plays in AHL)

James Melindy    Phoenix Coyotes    $625,000 (signed 3-year entry level deal in May; will earn $67,500 in AHL)

Adam Pardy    Winnipeg Jets    $600,000 (signed 1-year, 1-way free agent contract in July)

Organizations: Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, National Hockey League The Associated Press American Hockey League National Hockey League.Philly Philadelphia Inquirer Detroit Free Press Associated Pressrshort Phoenix Coyotes Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Ottawa Senators

Geographic location: Detroit, Philadelphia, Hamilton

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Recent comments

  • Carter laing
    September 16, 2013 - 12:03

    Danny should had a deal in July, he has earned it. Its over now and he will play with the team, he wants to. For him to leave this money on the table says alot about the person that he is. Money is not everything, he had made it known that he did not want to leave Detroit. Good luck Danny to your new year.

  • grant
    September 13, 2013 - 15:22

    There is no such thing as leaving 6 million on the table. before the season is over he will have that and more. Detroit had to do it this way. bonus and other ways that dont figure in the cap.

  • Frank Carroll
    September 13, 2013 - 08:24

    Facebook tells me the privacy settings on your link prevent me from sharing it.