Jul 17, 2014, 3:03 PM EDT
But to hear head coach Mike Babcock explain it, the Wings had reason to take a gamble.
“Last year, he didn’t bring anything,” Babcock told Detroit Sports 105.1 radio. “But the year before, he was a key, key component leadership-wise, forechecking-wise, heavy on the puck-wise, just being a heck of a player for us.”
The key to the deal, it seems, is Cleary’s knee. It was a problem throughout last season, forcing him to miss the final 22 games of the regular season and Detroit’s entire five-game playoff loss to Boston in the opening round. Even when he was able to play, the 35-year-old looked a step slow, scoring just four goals and eight points in 52 games, posting a minus-11 rating.
But a summer working with Red Wings trainer Mike Barwis — who Babcock called “the best in the business” — has led the Wings to believe Cleary’s knee issues are a thing of the past, though they’re still cognizant of the risks involved.
“We’ve been told that his knee’s really come on,” Babcock explained. “If he’s on one leg like he was last year, he can’t play on our team. If he’s on two legs, he can help us win.
“Is it going to happen for sure? No. Would we have wasted the money if he can’t play? I guess. Is it a calculated decision and risk on our part? Yes.”
As for Cleary, he says he’s taking the backlash and using it as motivation to make up for what he acknowledged was a disappointing campaign.
“You want to prove people wrong,” Cleary said, per the Detroit News. “My main objective is get healthy and play the way I know I can. Last year was a tough year.”
Apr 19, 2015, 1:36 PM EDT
Andrew Desjardins could also be in for Chicago.
Apr 19, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT
Was injured on a hit from Kyle Okposo.
Apr 19, 2015, 12:51 PM EDT
He missed the second game of the series with an upper body injury.
Apr 19, 2015, 11:35 AM EDT
Puck drop is at 12 p.m. ET on NBC.
Apr 19, 2015, 11:06 AM EDT
Neil replaces Chiasson on Ottawa’s fourth line.
Apr 19, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
He’s missed six games with a right hand injury.
Apr 19, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT
Changes in the crease the theme of the day.
Apr 19, 2015, 2:51 AM EDT
It will be interesting to see what happens as this series heads to Winnipeg.
Apr 19, 2015, 1:40 AM EDT
Series shifts back to Winnipeg.
Apr 19, 2015, 12:41 AM EDT
Had a dominant performance in Game 2.
Apr 18, 2015, 11:56 PM EDT
Anaheim’s veteran forward received a minor penalty on the play.
Apr 18, 2015, 11:13 PM EDT
“I think I bring a really good winning attitude and I have a lot to offer offensively.”
Apr 18, 2015, 11:09 PM EDT
Sidney Crosby scored twice and that helps.
Apr 18, 2015, 10:20 PM EDT
Had one goal in 19 playoff games prior to Saturday.
Apr 18, 2015, 9:25 PM EDT
These teams combined for eight shots in the opening period.
Apr 18, 2015, 9:08 PM EDT
Craig MacTavish has some decisions to make, now that he’s won the Connor McDavid sweepstakes.
Apr 18, 2015, 8:39 PM EDT
St. Louis with the win.
Apr 18, 2015, 8:26 PM EDT
Edmonton wins the Connor McDavid sweeps.
Apr 18, 2015, 7:33 PM EDT
Can the Penguins and Jets even things up?
Apr 18, 2015, 7:01 PM EDT
Not wasting any time.
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