Kukla's Korner

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Red Wings training camp day 1: Cleary Cleary Cleary Alfie Cleary Cleary

Updated 2x at 6:05 PM: I just wanted to go down to Centre Ice Arena, watch the Wings' players and prospects skate during the first day of training camp, etc. etc. I headed to Centre Ice an hour early, planted my butt at the north end of the rink, where the media is supposed to go to watch practices...

When my phone blows up. Cleary's signing. Cleary's signed. Cleary's in Traverse City. Ken Holland's talking with the media about Cleary.

So, with Paul doing triple time to help me out as I've got a notebook as opposed to a tablet PC, and as I just felt that it wouldn't be proper for me to skip the vast majority of what was going on on the ice for the sake of what has to be the most ridiculous set of dramatics over a 34-going-on-35-year-old third-line forward in NHL history, I watched drills, feeling like the biggest boob in the world.

I ended up getting some solid audio and interviews with Cleary, Babcock, Holland, Abdelkader, Smith, Tatar, Weiss and Smith...But today was a VERY hard day.

Regarding Cleary...

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke to Ken Holland about Cleary's 1-year, $1.75 million contract (which, according to Capgeek, puts the Wings $2.387 million over the salary cap's ceiling and gives the Wings 27 players and 17 forwards)...

“It’s been a long process,” Holland said. “We 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 opportunities this week and he made a decision to come Detroit on a one-year contract.”

Cleary, who will be 35-years-old in December, produced nine goals with six assists in 48 games with the Wings last season. This will be his ninth-season in a Red Wings uniform. The Cleary contract will fit into the Red Wings salary cap, but in the next three weeks, Holland will need to make some moves so they are cap compliant before the season-opener against Buffalo on Oct. 2.

According to several media reports, Cleary had a deal with Philadelphia where he would attend the Flyers’ training camp in a professional tryout. The reports stated that the deal would result in a three-contract that couldn’t be finalized before the end of the month when the team would be able to clear cap space.

On Wednesday, Cleary flew to Traverse City where he met with Holland and coach Mike Babcock at Cherry Capital Airport.

“We think we’re a better team with Clears,” Holland said. “He’s versatile on the wing, he’s good in the locker room. In the end, he flew up yesterday to meet with Babs and I at the airport and his message was he wanted to be a Red Wing and he wanted to work with us. He hopes to play until his 38, 39 years of age, he’s 34, and let’s take a one-year deal and trust that things will work out based on the coach knowing him, based upon the people that he knows in the locker room and the history of the ownership in Detroit.”

...

NHL teams must submit their 23-man rosters by 3 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 30. The Red Wings now have 17 forwards in camp, but will only keep 14 on the final roster.

“We’d like to move somebody. We have to move somebody,” Holland said. “Let’s see what goes on the next three weeks. Unfortunately Darren Helm’s not even healthy, we’re hoping he’s back in a week, but I’ve been told it could be a week to three weeks. Let’s see where we’re at health wise and the competitiveness out there.”

MLive's Ansar Khan confirmed the Cleary deal and noted the Wings' roster crunch...

Holland said he would like to trade a player before the season opener Oct. 2 vs. Buffalo, but has other options.

Center Darren Helm (groin, back) is almost certain to start the season on injured reserve. The Red Wings also have two players – forward Gustav Nyquist and defenseman Danny DeKeyser – who are exempt from waivers and can be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins. The club also could opt to trade or waive a veteran like Jordin Tootoo or Patrick Eaves.

“We have until a couple of days before the Buffalo game to work on our roster. Let’s see what goes on,'' Holland said. “We’ve got some built-in options, but let’s let it play itself out. We’d like to move somebody. We have to move somebody. Let’s see what goes on the next three weeks. … Let’s see where we’re at health-wise and the competitiveness out there.''

Holland said the club's loyalty to veterans worked in Cleary's favor.

“We talked about my managing style and the way our ownership runs our team with loyalty,'' Holland said. “You look at some of the guys here in the organization, like (Chris) Chelios, (Kirk) Maltby, (Kris) Draper and (Chris) Osgood. It (Cleary's contract) is a number that fits into our cap. Over the next three weeks we’ll have to make some moves to get cap compliant before the Buffalo game.'

As well as Cleary's comments...

Holland can begin discussing a contract extension with Cleary after Jan. 1. With the salary cap projected to rise sharply over the next couple of years, Cleary trusts that the franchise will take care of him.

“I think I’ve got a great relationship with Kenny,'' Cleary said. “I believe in myself and I think we’ll see how it plays out. People are probably thinking I’m not the smartest guy, but I have to deal with what I feel is right for me, and I did it.”

It was a tough process, emotionally draining. It even drained his cell phone battery.

“I’m sorry to everybody for the drama that was created. It’s just not my style,'' Cleary said. “Social media at times can be frustrating. But that’s the world we live in and I apologize to all of the writers, the Philly writers. But I’m a Red Wing and I’m proud to be a Red Wing.”

...

Alfredsson had been wearing No. 11, the number he wore for 17 seasons with the Ottawa Senators. He said he'll happily give it back to Cleary.

“I really don’t care,'' Alfredsson said. “I think it would be kind of neat to leave 11 for Ottawa, and with Danny coming back I think he’s No. 11 in Detroit, so I’ll pick another number. I’ve looked at some numbers. There are quite a few that aren’t available anymore. I wore 24 in Sweden when I joined the Elite League from '92-95, so that’s probably the number I’ll go with.''

Ditto times three or four from the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...

“We have until a couple of days before the Buffalo game to work on our roster,” Holland said. “Let’s see what goes on. We’ve got some built in options, but let’s let it play itself out.

“Over the last 72 hours as this thing as heated up and Dan Cleary wanted to make a decision, as one of our internal discussions we all felt we’re a better team with Dan Cleary and we’ll sort this out,” Holland continued. “We have some players on our team that are on two-way contract, Dan DeKeyser is an example. There is flexibilities worked in, not that he’s going down.”

Ultimately the Wings will need to trade someone or place them on waivers in order to meet the roster size and salary cap requirements.

“We have to move somebody,” Holland said. “Unfortunately Darren Helm’s not even healthy, we’re hoping he’s back in a week, but I’ve been told it could be a week to three weeks. Let’s see where we’re at health wise and the competitiveness out there.

“We will be cap compliant, have a 23 man roster when we have to submit it,” Holland ended.

Who noted Cleary's comments when he magically appeared for a scrum...

“Paul Holmgren was a real gentleman and a class act through the whole situation,” Cleary said of the Flyers general manager. “I think he understood how tough the situation was for me. I pretty much told him that I was having a hard time. I needed any extra day or two and he was in complete support. If I was going to go there, I need to go there 100 percent. My heart was here and I had a chance of heart.”

Cleary, 34, shot down a report that he would sign a three-year deal worth $2.75 million a season to join the Flyers.

“Paul gave me an opportunity to come to Philly and I had a chance to be a Flyer and we never discussed numbers,” Cleary said. “It was a tryout in Philly.”

...

The Wings’ two-year offer to Cleary was just below what he got from Philadelphia. It was the addition of the third year that brought the number down even more, but all three years averaged around $2 million a season.

“People are probably thinking I’m not the smartest guy, or whatever, but I have to deal with what I feel is right for me, and I did it,” Cleary said. “The whole process was tough. It’s hard for people to relate to the situation. I said it a few days ago, there’s nothing like being a Red Wing and I mean that. I love being here, I won a Stanley Cup here, I’ve got friends for life, not only the players, but guys who work in PR, trainers, coaches, I mean, the list goes on.

“I’m sorry to everybody for the drama that was created,” Cleary added. “It’s just not my style. Social media at times can be frustrating. But that’s the world we live in and I apologize to all of the writers, the Philly writers, but I’m a Red Wing and I’m proud to be a Red Wing.”

As did DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose, who spoke with several other Wings about the news...

“Listen, it’s hard for people to relate to the situation,” he said. “I said it a few days ago, there’s nothing like being a Red Wing and I mean that. I love being here, I won a Stanley Cup here, I’ve got friends for life. … But I’m happy.”

The Red Wings are just as glad to have Cleary back. They like him for his versatility as a net-front presence, as a penalty-killer, for his competitiveness and leadership.

“Obviously, it’s a big plus for our team and for our organization,” forward Todd Bertuzzi said. “As much as Z and Pav and Mule and Kronner are the face of the organization, he’s always been a huge part in the locker room. If he was gone it would have been a huge role to fill.”

...

“Obviously, these are hard decisions for these guys,” coach Mike Babcock said. “When Clears met with us yesterday he just said he's worked so hard and his knees in such good shape, he trusts himself, he doesn't care, he's going out here and he's going to earn a contract going ahead. For me I'm thrilled about that. He makes our team better. Obviously it's going to be a tough team to play on up front, we got a lot of depth up front.”

Depth is a nice luxury for the Red Wings, who battled injuries all last season and had to dip into their young talent pool in Grand Rapids.

“We got good depth and it's going to be competitive,” Babcock said. “This part of camp is a walk through in making sure we know how to play and what to do, and then get some tempo. The exhibition schedule should be competitive for us.”

Cleary will skate in practice on Friday. The first inclination for the coach was to put Cleary on the same line as Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but those plans changed when Justin Abdelkader picked up three points in the intra-squad scrimmage on Thursday.

“I was going to play him with Pav and Z, but Abby got two today so I don't know what I'm going to do,” Babcock said. “I got all night to figure that out.”

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan, who confirmed the Cleary deal and took note of Cleary's comments...

"It's been a hectic few days for me," Cleary said. "Deep down, I just followed my heart and wanted to be happy."

Cleary, a forward, said he received a tryout offer from Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, but there was never a guaranteed contract offer.

Cleary was expected to travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday night but never went. Instead Cleary met with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock at the Traverse City airport Wednesday and expressed a desire to return to the team.

"I was ready to go to Philly, but I couldn't," Cleary said. "I needed to come out and meet with Kenny and Mike and get closure. I met with them and we figured out a way to get something done. I needed to give them (the Flyers) 100 percent of me, and I couldn't do it."

Cleary will get his No. 11 back from new Red Wing Daniel Alfredsson, who is expected to switch to No. 24.

Fox Sports Detroit' Art Renger, who was in on the scrum...

Holland acknowledged that Detroit might be forced to send down some of their younger players to Grand Rapids because they don’t have to clear waivers.

“We have some players on our team that are on two-way contract," Holland said. "Dan DeKeyser is an example. There is flexibilities worked in, not that he’s going down. We’d like to move somebody. We have to move somebody. Let’s see what goes on the next three weeks. Unfortunately Darren Helm’s not even healthy. We’re hoping he’s back in a week, but I’ve been told it could be a week to three weeks. Let’s see where we’re at health-wise and the competitiveness out there.”

Detroit has been trying to move players all summer long, but to no avail. If that trend continues, which is likely, expect the Wings to temporarily send DeKeyser and Gustav Nyquist to Grand Rapids and put Helm on IR.

These moves will be unpopular with the fans, but at this point, the Wings don't have many options.

And the Free Press's Helene St. James took note of some of the lighthearted banter...

“Hey, hey,” Kronwall cheered as he spotted Cleary.

“See what I deal with,” Cleary said, laughing. “It’s hard to leave.”

So it was. Cleary’s decision this morning to accept a one-year, $1.75-million offer from the Wings capped a stressful few days that saw him almost become a Philadelphia Flyer, until he couldn’t bear the thought of not being a Wing.

“I just followed my heart,” Cleary said. “I wanted to come here.”

At midnight Monday, Cleary agreed to a professional tryout contract with the Flyers, with an agreement that a three-year, $8.25-million deal would materialize at the end of the month, after the Flyers had created room under the salary cap. On Tuesday, Cleary found it hard to breathe.

“I was ready to go to Philly,” Cleary said, “and I just couldn’t go.”

That led to a meeting Wednesday with general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock at Traverse City’s airport. Cleary returned home to metro Detroit to wait for an offer. He said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren “was supportive” the whole time.

...

“What a way to start camp,” Kronwall said. He and Zetterberg had taken Cleary out to lunch last week, urging him to stay.

“It’s nice that everything got solved,” Zetterberg said. “I’m glad to see him here. He’s a big part of our group off the ice, and it wouldn’t be the same not having him. He brings a lot, and he helps keep a good atmosphere in the locker room.”

While posting a vide of Cleary's comments...

As well as Ken Holland's take...

And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness posted videos of Alfredsson...

Abdelkader...

And Cleary speaking with the media...

As well as a trio of scrimmage clips...

 

 

And some of Holland's early comments:

 


Via St. James on Twitter, Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia's Tim Panaccio weighed in...

And Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia's Sarah Baicker snagged more comments from Holmgren:

"I heard from Dan’s agent late last night that he had just decided to stay with Detroit," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "I think they, at the end, from what I understand, had offered him a contract and he was open to accept that, and that’s the reason he’s not here on a tryout."

Cleary, 34, signed a professional tryout with the Flyers Tuesday -– and, according to reports, had agreed to a three-year, $8.25 million contract that would become official at the end of the month, when NHL teams are required to submit their rosters to the league. The Flyers were unable to sign him immediately because they are already more than $2 million over the salary cap.

Wednesday had been a day full of “will he or won’t he” guessing games, as after Holmgren said he still expected Cleary to arrive Thursday morning, TSN reported that the veteran winger was instead meeting with Ken Holland, GM of the Detroit Red Wings, and Mike Babcock, the team’s coach. But even then, when Holmgren was under the impression Cleary would eventually arrive in Philadelphia, he knew the veteran winger was having doubts.

"I had a couple conversations with Dan leading up to even two days ago, when he had agreed to come on a tryout," Holmgren said. "I knew that he wanted to be in Detroit. He was hanging around all summer, and things worked out, so good for him. He had eight years there and was hoping to continue his ride with the Red Wings, and that’s good for him."

Detroit had reportedly offered Cleary a deal over the summer, but Cleary elected to hold out. In all likelihood, once the Red Wings' brass realized he was serious about heading to another team in their conference, they again tried to work with him. The deal in Detroit, in addition, guarantees Cleary money -- had he come to the Flyers on a tryout and gotten injured before Oct. 1, he might never have signed that three-year deal.

"I don’t know what happened there, I can’t speak to that," Holmgren said, "but I got a voicemail message from him this morning, and a text message. One of the things that makes him a good player is he’s a character guy and obviously he had deep roots to the Red Wings organization, and I can’t fault him for that. Actually, I probably think more highly of him now than I did two days ago."

Phillyburbs.com's Wayne Fish penned a Cleary article....

“I heard from Dan’s agent late last night that he stayed with Detroit,’’ Holmgren said at the Wells Fargo Center. “At the end, I understand that they had offered him a contract. And he was open to accept that. That’s why he’s not here on the tryout.’’

Cleary ended up signing a one-year, $1.75-million contract with Detroit, a further indication the reported three-year offer from the Flyers was bogus.

Holmgren said there are no hard feelings from his vantage point.

“I had a couple conversations with Dan leading up to even two days ago,’’ Holmgren said. “I knew he wanted to be in Detroit, he was hanging out with the team all summer. Good for him, obviously he had eight years there and he was hoping to keep the ride going, so good for him.’’

As did NHL.com's Adam Kimelman:

"Dan was up front right from the get-go," Holmgren said. "My first conversation was he loved Detroit, wanted it to work out there. … One of the things that makes him a good player is he's a character guy. He had deep roots with the Detroit organization. I can't fault him for that. I probably think more highly of him now than I did two days ago."

While the Flyers certainly were hoping to add a player who adds the type of grit and offensive skill that Cleary has to their third line, Holmgren said this situation allows him to see other younger players in that role.

"We were kind of anxious to look at a few guys in that position anyway," Holmgren said. "I don't know if you want to call it a silver lining, but it's really a good thing for us. Mike Raffl, a kid we signed, an Austrian kid who played in Sweden, we like. … [2012 first-round pick] Scott Laughton, who knows? There should be some competition for a couple spots up front."

Via Paul, I hate to agree with SI's Allan Muir here, but I do:

As tough as it might have been to say goodbye to someone who’d given all he had to the team, Cleary’s departure was a blessing for the Wings, a team that already has too many aging warriors up front. If nothing else, it helped thin out a logjam of forwards that still requires a trade or two (and maybe an LTIR designation for Darren Helm) to get the team under the roster limit and the cap.

But by leaving, Cleary also opened a door for prospects like Tomas Tatar, the MVP of the 2013 Calder Cup playoffs, and Gustav Nyquist, who was effective in a third line role for Detroit last spring, to legitimately battle for full-time positions with the big club.

That he felt more comfortable with Cleary and his diminishing game speaks volumes about the lack of confidence that Holland and coach Mike Babcock have in these players. It’s not just a slap in the face to the kids. If a player like Tatar isn’t ready after three years in Grand Rapids, it suggests that the Wings are either drafting poorly or not properly developing their prospects.

It’s easy to say that another year in the minors won’t kill their careers, but that’s not necessarily true. Guys get stale playing lesser competition. They lose confidence. They wonder where they fit. Because a deal like this suggests they don’t fit in Detroit.

Maybe it’ll turn out that Helm and Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi are lost for the season and Cleary is back as an insurance policy, a fourth line stabilizer. If that’s the case, then signing him is simply a lateral move. But if his return means guys like Tatar and Nyquist don’t get their shot, it’s hard not to see this as a bad move for the Wings.

And I didn't see the AP's Larry Lage, but here's his quip:

Cleary, who has 377 career points, was a free agent last summer. He didn’t get the long-term deal he was seeking from the Red Wings or another team, and settled for a one-year deal to stay in Detroit.

“It’s not a rumour; it’s a reality,” said Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar, who could be one of several players facing their release as Detroit tries to get under the salary cap.

In the Twitter department (and I will tell you a little more about the scrimmage--whose box score you can access here--later)...

As I Tweeted--and again, please follow me on Twitter as no tablet PC + nowhere to put my laptop = notebook + cell phone--Alfredsson wore #24 with the Frolunda Indians, and he still skates there in the summer (as Joakim Andersson pointed out, #18 does, too). I had that puppy out pretty fast...

That's why he was there. He passed it.

Smith didn't know and Abdelkader didn't know. They were both surprised.

The ORLY? owl gets a "YA RLY" response.

Alfredsson was nervous, honest-to-Pete nervous.

From the Wings...

The Wings' Instagram page posted two photos from the practices, and their Facebook page posted two scrum pics...

 

 

 

In other news...The Toronto Sun really did send Mike Zeisberger to camp to cover Alfredsson, and TSN (via Winging it in Motown's Twitter feed) sent Matthew Sciantti to TC to specifically cover Daniel Alfredsson. It's...awkward...

Because they're doing their jobs so very well:

 

 

 

 

Michigan Hockey's Matt Gajtka took note of the non-Cleary aspects of Day 1 (and they will have a photo gallery up soon), discussing the Wings' essential de-facto road trip that is training camp away from the Joe...

“We love it up here,” said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. “It’s important to create chemistry early…that helps you get off to a fast start. We have the opportunity to do that here. We have two sheets of ice here so we love the setup, and guys can go golfing, fishing or boating afterwards.”

“It’s such a different atmosphere here,” said Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith, shortly after scrimmaging in front of an appreciative crowd. “It’s just good to be back. We didn’t get a chance to come up here last year, so it’s good to see the volunteers and the fans again.”

For someone like the 24-year-old Smith, who started last season in the AHL with Grand Rapids and finished as a regular contributor during the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup playoff run, the normalcy that comes with camp in Traverse City is appreciated.

“Last year, it was kind of unknown where I’d be playing and when the [NHL] season was going to start,” Smith said. “We get some time to learn our systems and get used to who we’re playing with on the ‘D’ corps. We were playing our game by the time the playoffs started [last year] but this’ll help us get there sooner. It’s a good thing for management. Guys are fighting for roster spots, for ice time, power-play time, to play at the end of games. We’re competitors and we want to get on the ice. You always want to get better.”

Which is true for Alredsson and Weiss as well:

“It’s the perfect environment up here,” he said. “As a new guy, this is great for me to get to know the guys. I feel bad for my wife at home with four kids for a few days, but I’m trying to make the most of this time.”

Alfredsson has a quick friend in Stephen Weiss, who also joined the Red Wings via free agency. A 30-year-old center, Weiss skated for the Florida Panthers for 11 seasons before accepting a six-year contract offer from Detroit.

“[Alfredsson] and I have talked a bit about the transition,” Weiss, a product of the Plymouth Whalers, said. “It’s little things here and there that are different. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a new team, but it’s Day 1 and you just keep trying to get better.

Gajtka continues and speaks with Justin Abdelkader about the Wings' move to the Eastern Conference. And who could this be?

Michigan Hockey posted some photo Tweets as well:


Via Paul, Sportsnet's Ryan Porth offered 3 reasons why the Wings can and 3 reasons why the Wings may not "win it all"...

Why the Red Wings can win it all

1. Mike Babcock is a heck of a coach: As much as any coach in the league, Mike Babcock’s not having a Jack Adams Award in his career leaves us wondering one thing: How?

You can make a case that Babcock has been the NHL’s best coach dating back to 2003, when he unexpectedly steered Anaheim within one win from a Stanley Cup. He simply gets the most out of his team, no matter who is in or out of his lineup. He has maintained Detroit’s storied success as well as anyone could have expected in the salary-cap era. He is the cream of the crop when it comes to NHL coaches.

Last season is a great example of Babcock’s effectiveness. Under any other coach the Wings may have missed the playoffs. But with the least-talented Red Wings team in maybe two decades, Babcock led his seventh-seeded club to Game 7 of the second round – despite being decimated by injuries all season long.

The best coach without a Jack Adams on his resumé will always have Detroit in the Stanley Cup mix.

2. Stephen Weiss is an upgrade: Detroit reeling in Weiss via free agency was one of the most crucial signings of the entire offseason.

In recent years the Red Wings’ lineup has been top heavy with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Daniel Alfredsson and his 1,108 career points are a welcome addition, but Weiss stabilizes the second line. He’s an upgrade over offseason departure Valtteri Filppula, who somehow received a slightly larger contract than Weiss. The former Florida Panther has racked up 57 or more points in three of his last five seasons (and 40-plus points in last six full seasons) as the club’s top-line pivot, which means he’s well-suited for a second-line role in Detroit.

The free agent market was light on talent, but Weiss was one of the better centres available. Detroit needed a true center to slide in behind Datsyuk on the depth chart, and the addition of Weiss should make them a harder team to deposit come playoff time.

3. Realignment should help

Moving to the Eastern Conference doesn’t mean the Red Wings will no longer travel west. But having divisional games and the playoffs in their own time zone is the exact reason why the Wings wanted to get out of the West.

This season the Red Wings will play 14 road games outside of the Eastern Time Zone. In 2011-12, the last time there was an 82-game slate, they had 29. After mid-January this season, they will not travel west of Minnesota. A lighter travel schedule should help an older team like the Wings.

Boston is favoured by many to win the Atlantic Division, but Detroit should be the No. 2 seed in the new-look division. While the trio of Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto will undoubtedly be competitive, the Wings are positioned nicely compared to the vaunted Central Division of recent past.

The Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau posted a photo gallery and something of a teaser...

While I was writing this, DetroitRedWings.com's Roose penned a scrimmage recap...

"It felt pretty good. Playing with those two guys it’s fun,” said Abdelkader of skating with the Euro Twins in the scrimmage. “They’ll find you. You just have to ready and have your stick on the ice at all times because more than likely it’s going to end up there.

Zetterberg had a goal and three assists. Datsyuk scored once and had two assists.

Last week, coach Mike Babcock said he likes Abdelkader for his versatility as a player that he can use on the top scoring line or as a fourth-line grinder.

“He's 26 years old, it's just about time he becomes a player in the league. It takes you that long,” Babcock said. “Abby skates way better than he used to. He's got huge confidence. Being invited to Olympic camp probably didn't hurt him confidence-wise. You come here today and shoot two in the net you just start thinking that's your job. Really good for him, much better for us.”

Abdelkader worked well on Thursday and managed to get himself open in the offensive zone, but he’s not going to day one day’s results for granted.

“I figured out last year how I had to play with Pav,” he said. “If you can find your space and find where you need to be that I can bring something different to that line whether I’m there or not who knows. I’m there one day, but things change. If I am I know how I need to play.”

Veteran forward Daniel Alfredsson and center Stephen Weiss saw plenty from Datsyuk’s line on their first day of training camp as new members of the Red Wings. The two newcomers skated on Team Howe’s top line with Franzen.

“They seem to know where each other is on the ice, all three of them played really good,” Alfredsson said. “I thought we had some pretty good shifts here and there. It’s going to take some time to build some chemistry, but it was nice to get going. It was a pretty good pace.”

TSN's already posted a Cleary video, too.

 

 

I PROMISE to try to weigh in as to what went on--albeit briefly--later, and I will do more of my own stuff when Daniel Cleary isn't hijacking training camp.

 

 

Update: If you just can't get enough Cleary, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi and the Windsor Star's Bob Duff have more, and, via RedWingsFeed, the 7&4 News posted a clip about Cleary, too:

And...

Update #1: The Free Press posted a photo gallery from today's proceedings.

Update #2: The Detroit News's David Guralnick also posited a photo gallery...

And My Fox Detroit's Ryan Ermanni filed reports about Daniel Cleary...

 

And the "new guys":

 

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

@HeleneStJames:
For once, it wasn’t about the money: Daniel Cleary could have had 3 yrs, $8.25M with Flyers. Took 1 year and $1.75 M to stay with #RedWings

Has she already forgotten what Cleary said about Wings July offer: “It wasn’t what I felt I deserved, the offers I have today are a lot better so I don’t regret it at all.”
If it wasn’t about money then why did he keep going back and forth between the teams trying to get Wings to match Flyers’ offers?

Posted by Sandra from Trollhättan, Sweden on 09/12/13 at 06:00 PM ET

igrover's avatar

George, any word on whether the goalies are wearing the new smaller pads yet?

Posted by igrover on 09/12/13 at 07:33 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Yes, was going to get to that. Howard’s had an inch lobbed off his pads and Gustavsson’s lost at least 2. Pads are signed by Kay Whitmore as legal!

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/12/13 at 07:50 PM ET

perfection's avatar

Sandra, of course he was trying to get as much money as he could. I think he probably regrets turning down the initial offer at this point. But when it came down to the final min and he imagined showing up at the Flyers camp, he couldn’t do it.

The other side is that since Cleary does likely think he deserves more, he is putting his money where his mouth is. He is an injury prone player in his mid-30’s in a league that isn’t terribly kind to veterans anymore. I’d think he’d rather have term than anything at this point. It’s pretty gutsy for him to take the risk. It shows he’s confident in his body, training and abilities.

But the fact of the matter is that he took an old fashioned Red Wings hometown discount. There’s probably not a team in the league that wouldn’t have signed Dan Cleary on July 5th for one year at $1.75mil. It’s a steal for the Wings. I’m eager to see how things play out over the next few weeks. This depth and competition for roster spots is a good thing. It pushes guys to be their best and hopefully leads to the strongest roster possible.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 09/12/13 at 08:28 PM ET

Avatar

Lets he honest, while no one doubts his love for the Wings I’m sure there is a wink and nod for a long term deal when the cap his up, book it.  This is not a one year deal which is why I think this sucks and angry about it.  I don’t give a damn about what a great locker room guy he is, this team needs to get younger.  Look at a team like the Blackhawks, they make the tough decisions and replac vets with younger players while keeping ther core together.  Holland can’t make those tough decisions, what a joke.

Posted by bababooey on 09/12/13 at 08:40 PM ET

perfection's avatar

everyone seems to downplay the leadership thing, often simply by citing the fact that there’s other older, veteran players and so therefore, we don’t need whatever brand of leadership Cleary brings. Yet, when I read the reactions from the players, it reminds me that not all leadership is equal. Some guys lead by example, some guys are vocal, some guys take specific guys under their Wings as projects and other guys take the team on their shoulder in the locker room. The fact is none of us are in practices, on the planes, and in the locker rooms and none of us really know just how valuable Cleary is in that dept. I think it speaks volumes that Babcock was so involved in the Cleary negotiation. He knows better than anyone what Cleary brings to the table and how integral that is to winning the cup.

“It wouldn’t be the same not having him in there,’’ Zetterberg said. “You guys that know him a little bit know what kind of character he is. He brings a lot and helps keep a good atmosphere in the locker room. He’s part of the leadership group.’‘

Said Todd Bertuzzi: “It’s a big plus for our team and for our organization. As much as Z and Pav (Datsyuk) and Mule (Johan Franzen) and Kronner are the face of the organization, (Cleary) has always been a huge part in the locker room. If he was gone it would have been a huge role to fill.”

Is he irreplaceable? Of course not. But does he make our team better? I think definitely. And while perhaps there’s an implicit wink to re-sign him, there are no guarantees. If he is bad enough or blows out his knee or something, he is screwed. It’s still business. And as sentimental and loyal as the Wings are, even guys like Drapes and Malts came to a contract year where the team couldn’t commit to them anymore.

But hell, if Cleary has a good year, then I hope he does earn another contract. Good for him and good for us. Again, the risk is really minimal here. Even if, god forbid, the worst case happens and Nyquist has to go down until someone gets hurt, as long as we make the playoffs, it doesn’t matter much (plus someone is absolutely going to get hurt). This nonsense that it’ll stunt his development is silly. He’s an adult and understands strategy. Teams with more depth do more damage in the playoffs. There are no roster limitations then. So if we can stock quality players, it only helps us. Soon enough, Nyquist is out of waivers and this is moot. He will be on our team, probably in the top 6 for many years to come, no matter what happens over the next three months.

I’m super excited to see how this shakes down. I can’t believe people are being so negative. May the best men win those roster spots. Competition breeds greatness. If Tatar is moping and negative, then Cleary or not, he’s not going to be a Wing for the long hall. He’ll be another Hudler-type. And he will never be more than mediocre because of it.

My hope is Gus is simply too good, making our third line too lethal, and Holland is forced to make a tough decision, ie. waive a veteran. Between Helm, Eaves, and Tootoo, I think the team should be able get cap compliant and I’d rather have Sammy making $3mil on Grand Rapids and Gus lighting it up on the third line. But… that’s just me. In Babcock I definitely trust. He is the best.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 09/12/13 at 09:18 PM ET

d ca's avatar

The roster/cap math bothers me too…but Tootoo must be all but traded already…

If there is an understanding of a long term contract (barring injury) next summer than Holland must be looking to move two or three of these prospects for 1 player in return. And the prognosis on Helm is obviously not good…

next year they’re losing
—>Bert (as a player think he moves into coaching with GR),
—>Sammy
—>Quincey (UNLESS the cap goes up significantly)
—>Gustavsson
—>Eaves
—>Cleary
—>Alferdsson (he’ll be the one to decide it though)

the GR replacements will be:
Sheahan
Ferraro
Mrazek

Posted by d ca on 09/12/13 at 09:48 PM ET

Primis's avatar

George,

As I tweeted to you earlier, you were at the rink watching players, you did the right thing.  The Cleary Circus was just that, and needed no other ringmaster.  Don’t beat yourself up.

Daniel Alfredsson and his 1,108 career points are a welcome addition, but Weiss stabilizes the second line.

This.  Alfie is overshadowing Weiss, and maybe that’s a good thing and DET can surprise some people with it.  Weiss was a 1st line center and at one point would have easily gotten the franchise tag in FLA if hockey had one like the NFL.  He’s our #2 center now.  His injury history worries me, but even then he’s an upgrade over Fil.

He’s not perfect and he comes with some baggage, but as UFA signings go Weiss seems like one of the safer, better ones.

Then again Cleary could hit him in practice and knock him out for the season I guess…

Posted by Primis on 09/12/13 at 11:03 PM ET

Avatar

Yet, when I read the reactions from the players, it reminds me that not all leadership is equal.

Good point.  I totally expected them to roll their eyes or spit in the faces of reporters when asked about Cleary.

It’s great that the second oldest guy on the team and the captain look at Cleary for leadership.  Not worrying at all.

When was the last time a team signed a player and the soundbites from the current roster were negative?

Posted by Garth on 09/12/13 at 11:31 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I’m not happy about this resigning.  Cleary seems like a good guy, but the cost of having him around is greater than his contract.  One really has to wonder how many years on the shelf Tomas Tatar has left.  Is Cleary worth it?  I expect to see Nyquist around often enough, but its hard to see where all the other young guys fit in.  With Sammy, Cleary, and Bert hanging around and around and around, its just hard not see too much grey on this team; and its for no good reason honestly.  I think Bert is the only one who belongs.

And as for Cleary’s “leadership intangibles,” suffice it to say that I’m very skeptical.  Last year was a rough year due to inexperience and no one can really be blamed for any of that.  But what about the ‘10, ‘11, and ‘12 seasons?  Again, none of what I’m saying is one person’s fault, but the team was downright rudderless for long stretches of those years and lost a ton of games from lack of heart/effort.  Where were his leadership intangibles in those years?

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 09/13/13 at 09:04 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Sarah Lindenau @Lindy72

While his quotes are telling, his body language was clearly telling me he was not happy but he will fight of course.

Crushing.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 09/13/13 at 12:08 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.