Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Million Dollar Goal?

Updated 0956: quick analysis (at bottom of this post) of several Wing forwards who left, and how they fared the next season. 
Dan Cleary may have made himself a few bucks last night. We’ll get to that in a minute.  First, I see that Teemu Selanne registered a point in his first game back.  That’s nice. That’s a nice story.  I guess, and I’ll have to check with the league office on this one…I guess with one point in one game, he’s now considered a Hart front runner?  How disappointing that he couldn’t have planned just a little bit better, a return one or two games before the All Star break so that he could have justified a starter’s role in Atlanta.

Cleary?  Just a minute.  I’m not a big Peter Forsberg fan.  Can’t quite put my finger on it.  Something nags at me about him and I have trouble figuring it out.

You have no idea how frustrating it is to sit here with this gnawing feeling, this distaste, disliking another human being but lacking the mental capacity to really pinpoint the reason why.  I don’t like white rice either, but I know why. God I hate white rice.  But Forsberg? I don’t know what it is and that makes me all itchy.  Sometimes I get this feeling like an awakening is right there…even an epiphany, a white light of insight that explains why he grates on me.


...I think I may have it. Yes. I’m certain. I’ve finally figured it out.  Why don’t I like Peter Forsberg?

Because he’s a piece of garbage Dive, that’s why.  Is, was, will be.  Spleen or no spleen. Healthy foot, club foot, stinky foot, foot long sub. I don’t care.  A Dive’s a Dive’s a Dive.  I don’t like his Crocs. I don’t like the fawning in Sweden, the stamp, his dad or the whole “Foppa” thing.  “Foppa”.  The only thing I like about Forsberg is the fact that he started the Red Wing Franchise Rejuvenation Project by going after Igor Larionov in ‘96.

Now that I’ve finally figured out why I don’t like the guy, I can admit one thing I respect about him. He, apparently, doesn’t like us either.


The Red Wings made a pitch to sign free-agent center Peter Forsberg, but he let them know he is not interested in playing for Detroit. The longtime Colorado Avalanche star apparently would feel somewhat like a traitor if he joined his former club’s one-time arch-rival.

Forsberg has been skating and working out in his native Sweden and recently gave his agent the go-ahead to begin negotiating with a select group of NHL teams, which doesn’t include the Red Wings.

Good.  Here’s hoping he signs in Denver and they get that 8 seed.

Alright. On to our boy Charlie Buckets.  One of our more underused, but brilliant, entries in the A2Y glossary.  Dan Cleary, the boy with the golden ticket.  Wandering the streets of dreary whatevertownBucketsgrewupin, not wanting to go home because Grampa Joe wasn’t getting out of bed and yet another dinner of disgusting thick tasteless soup awaited him.  A sparkle in the gutter, a silver dollar.  That money could feed his family for a week!  Oh, the turmoil.  Tasty Wonka chocolate and a chance at a trip every child in the world was hoping for, or food on the Bucket table.  Screw it.  Grabbed it. Bought the bar. Ripped it open. Golden Ticket. Hell yes.

And next thing you know ol’ Charlie Buckets is a Wing. New life.  Hometown hero status.  Big goals.  Flying elbows in the chops of men named Dion. Black eyes and dollar signs.  Oh yes. He must be paid.  That’s right Helene, he must be paid.

St. James wrote yesterday that it’s decision time for Charlie. Bread on the table or a trip to the chocolate river with Mike TV and big fat Augustus Frigging Gloop.  Patrick Sharp signed an extension in Chicago that comes to 3.9/year for four.  Cleary and his agent are apparently using that number as a benchmark.  Charlie’s got a dilemma.

“I think everyone knows how much I like it here, how much of a fit it is for me,” he said. “I really want to be here for a long time, and I believe things will get done.”

That confidence may ebb as the numbers are laid out before him. The Wings want to get Cleary done at around $2.5 million a season, and in return will offer plenty of term. But do the math in the Sharp deal, and that adds up to Cleary’s camp knowing he might make $1.4 million more on the open market this summer.

“That’s a lot of money,” Cleary said. “That’s something I would have to talk with my family about and make a decision about. It’d be a tough spot.”

Hometown discount, you’re thinking.  Cleary loves being a Wing. Everyone loves being a Wing.  The mystique is worth a million itself. The honor of it, the aura, the flowing robes.  Striking.

Nice idea.  But you be the one to tell Mrs. Buckets that you left 1.5 million on the table because that Winged Wheel is so cool.  See.  Us guys?  We’re not the brightest.  “Danny’ll sign for whatever Kenny offers him ‘cause Stevie and Hullie and Nicky and Skippy and Joey and Donny all took the discount ‘cause it’s what Wings do to make the team better ‘cause guys like to win and winning’s all that matters. That and beer.”  The chicks?  A little smarter when it comes to dollars.  Baroque, former Wing commenter and current HTT novelist, comments at On The Wings.

I think, if Cleary had previously signed a large contract in his career, it would be a bit easier for him to accept less to stay. The fact that this is the first time he’ll be able to get a large contract to give himself and his family security makes the choice a lot harder.

I don’t envy the man. He has a bit of thinking to do.

Damn right he does.  St. James mentions that if this thing isn’t done by the deadline, that Buckets could be bait.  Oh boy.  Now that wouldn’t be a fun time.  Cleary is Uncle Mike’s boy. The poster child for the Babcock Way.  Last night proved it. Shoot the puck. Shoot the puck.  Shoot it Sammy.  Shoot it.  Sit you dumbass. Watch Danny. Shoot Danny. Score. Tie. Win. Joy. Maybe a million dollar goal.

Dan Cleary, Charlie Buckets to you and me, has got himself a decision to make.  You know he’s grateful for the opportunity the Wings have given him.  They’ve literally changed his life, gave him a chance that few other teams would have.  He’s earned that money.  He’s earned, as hard as it’s going to be, the opportunity to decide whether staying in Detroit with a chance for a Cup is worth leaving another silver dollar in the gutter. 

Tough, tough call.  My prediction?  Buckets stays to the tune of 2.8/year for three years.  Loyalty wins out.  But here’s the thing.  If I’m wrong and Cleary walks, or is dealt because it’s apparent he’s gonna hold out for more money, then you know the decision was made for the right reasons.


Andrew from Ann Arbor and Baroque got me thinking a bit.  Kudos.  How do Wings do when they opt to leave or are traded? Generally, not well.  Or not as well as they did in Detroit.

02-03 Detroit       36g-47a-83pts
03-04 Duckies     31g-34a-65pts

05-06 Detroit       40-41-81
06-07 NYR         29-33-62

00-01 Detroit       20-18-38
01-02 Buffalo       9-13-22

And here’s the one I think Cleary should be looking hard at.  Marty Lapointe, we all know, had his career year—the season that made him a very rich guy—in 2000-01.  We all remember his contract year and the 27 goals, 30 assists…not to mention the disastrous penalties in the playoffs.  Off he went to Boston where his production dropped by ten goals and 17 points.  He’s never reached that level again, or even close to it.

Why?  The system. The environment. The leadership.  Take your pick, but players who leave Detroit—Kozlov a notable exception—do not do as well elsewhere.  Any of the players listed above were all hurt at some point the year following. Darren McCarty, not listed above, had a reasonably good year in 67 games his first season in Calgary. But we know the rest of that story.

Injuries affected almost all of the departing Wings’ drop in production, but that has to be taken into consideration as well.  The Wing system, generally speaking, of puck possession keeps the forward corps relatively healthy.  2002’s roster of senior citizens is testament to that.



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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com