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.”
Jun 30, 2015, 11:55 PM EDT
David Poile has made the 35-year-old an offer and given him a deadline.
Jun 30, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT
But this isn’t the first time such a scenario has been reported.
Jun 30, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT
San Jose acquired him from Boston earlier in the day.
Jun 30, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT
He was set to become a restricted free agent on Wednesday.
Jun 30, 2015, 8:27 PM EDT
Detroit’s creating an opportunity for one of its young forwards.
Jun 30, 2015, 8:06 PM EDT
Arizona is getting back its former center.
Jun 30, 2015, 8:04 PM EDT
He’s set to become a restricted free agent on Wednesday.
Jun 30, 2015, 7:36 PM EDT
He hasn’t been charged with a crime, but is reportedly being investigated.
Jun 30, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT
Its reportedly a one-way deal worth $800,000.
Jun 30, 2015, 6:50 PM EDT
The forward was a part of a seven-player trade on Tuesday.
Jun 30, 2015, 6:37 PM EDT
Won NHL’s coach of the year in 2013 with Ottawa.
Jun 30, 2015, 6:07 PM EDT
Where he’ll be reunited with former teammate Ryan Kesler.
Jun 30, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT
Calgary’s GM responded to comments in a Boston Herald story regarding defenseman Dougie Hamilton.
Jun 30, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT
A total of seven players involved in Tuesday’s trade.
Jun 30, 2015, 3:54 PM EDT
RFA defenseman appeared in a career-high 76 games last year.
Jun 30, 2015, 3:39 PM EDT
Rangers and Bruins let their respective rearguards walk, thereby deepening the free agent pool.
Jun 30, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
So says his agent.
Jun 30, 2015, 2:41 PM EDT
Jun 30, 2015, 2:04 PM EDT
Cap hit around $5.75 million.
Jun 30, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT
Former first-round pick is relieved after a “stressful” last few days.
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