Why is Daniel Cleary still a Red Wing rather than a Flyer, as had been speculated all week? Don’t blame the player in this case. Blame the system.
Specifically the NHL’s silly insistence that players under contract, with career-ending injuries remain on their club’s active roster until the season gets underway, instead of being allowed to retire.
The Flyers — over the NHL’s $64 million salary cap — couldn’t officially sign the 34-year-old Cleary until they placed Chris Pronger on the long-term injury list to clear his $4.9 million.
Cleary was supposed to be on the ice at 8:30 a.m. Thursday for the start of training camp. He wouldn’t be paid if he got hurt, since he was entering camp on a tryout basis. Cleary decided that was too big of a risk and signed a 1-year, $1.75 million deal to remain with the Red Wings.
“I heard from Dan’s agent late [Wednesday] that he had just decided to stay with Detroit,” said GM Paul Holmgren. “I knew that he wanted to be in Detroit. He was hanging around all summer, and things worked out, so good for him.”
If there was any animosity on Holmgren’s part, he hid it well. He said that showed what a character guy he is.
“Obviously, he had deep roots to the Red Wings’ organization, and I can’t fault him for that,” Holmgren said.
At least one would-be teammate said the club is better off without Cleary.
“If a guy didn’t want to be here and be 100-percent committed to this team, we’re better off without him,” said new defenseman Mark Streit