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.”
Sep 16, 2014, 10:39 PM EDT
“It’s extortion is what it is. I don’t make this stuff up.”
Sep 16, 2014, 9:22 PM EDT
Caps blueliner has had bad luck in the health department.
Sep 16, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT
Florida’s youngsters stole the show overall.
Sep 16, 2014, 7:18 PM EDT
And he’ll reportedly miss part of Minnesota’s training camp.
Sep 16, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
The former appeared in three games for Chicago last year; the latter played in Germany.
Sep 16, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT
Sep 16, 2014, 5:35 PM EDT
The future of Detroit’s defense gets locked in.
Sep 16, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT
Just one month after re-signing Jakob Silfverberg on the cheap.
Sep 16, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT
“Fines are meaningful. And I think it has to do with essentially being called out.”
Sep 16, 2014, 3:21 PM EDT
He’ll be part of the player development department.
Sep 16, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
We pick a couple of long shots.
Sep 16, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT
Kings forward “didn’t want to become a free agent and leave” L.A.
Sep 16, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
That’s him getting tossed around by Ryan Reaves.
Sep 16, 2014, 11:58 AM EDT
For “outstanding service to hockey in the United States.”
Sep 16, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT
Veteran power forward is trying to return from another concussion.
Sep 16, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT
Will the NHL be watching?
Sep 16, 2014, 10:13 AM EDT
Sounds like he got the message.
Sep 16, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
The recently signed forward hopes to stick with “powerhouse” team.
Sep 16, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Sep 16, 2014, 12:45 AM EDT
“It’s turned the corner for the better as far as rehab has gone.”
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands 17
- Advantage Kuemper? Harding on crutches after ankle injury 9
- Done deal, finally: Wings ink DeKeyser to two-year, $4.375M extension 9
- Update: NHL wants to see fine system in action before publicizing diving 5
- Get your odds to make the playoffs for all 30 NHL teams 18
- Blue Jackets GM to Johansen: It’s about the team, not ‘one guy’ 25
- Will the NHL publicize divers? 48
- Report: NHL, Epix network to partner on Winter Classic reality series 18
- Habs to play without captain for just second time in franchise history 16
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman 54