I feel like we've been a bit too hard on Danny Cleary in the last 24 hours or so.
As fans, we all have the right to feel however it is we feel. I think some of the statistical fancy stats people have the right to be upset, but it's time to get over the hate. It's time to get over it fast. The rest of us eyeball test people are thrilled as hell.
Dan Cleary hasn't quite lived up to the billing as a solid player the last few seasons, but we have to look beyond the numbers. Some people say that numbers never lie, well those people are wrong. Like the diggers, you have to search past the numbers… waaaaay past them into the soul of a hockey player. That's where you find the things Cleary brings to the table. The things that make up real hockey players. The things that matter the most. The heart. The grit. The experience. The loyalty. The pride. The honor. The respect.
All day long… all I see is "ZOMG! 1.5 million! That's more that Dany Heatley got from the Ducks!" or "WHAT?!? HE GETS ANOTHER MILLION IN GAMES PLAYED BONUSES!?" Well to those remarks and outbursts, I say to you Red Wings fans...
Daniel Cleary is a soldier.
He's the first ever Newfie to get his name on the Stanley Cup. He's grinded and battled and busted his ass for this franchise. Remember that game winning goal in Game 7 of the 2009 2nd round against Anaheim? Yeah that's right. Cleary scored that sick son of a b*tch goal. Don't forget that.
Don't ever forget.
You see… he's earned this contract. He's given up his body and soul for this organization. He's sacrificed
fictional millions from the Flyers to return home to Mike Babcock and the Wings. Sure, he might have scored 8 points in 52 games last season, but he's scored 200 points in our hearts. Those are the numbers that really matter.
Statistically, the idea that Cleary stacks up against the Datsyuks and Zetterbegs is a stretch. But he wears that red and white sweater with honor and respect. That's something to be proud of if you're a Red Wings fan. How can you not be loyal to someone like that? Loyalty is what this game is about. We all want division titles, playoff wins and Stanley Cups, but don't those just feel empty without honor and loyalty to your players?
Cleary is ALREADY skating and getting back to work and putting in the effort to have a bounce back year. He told
his PR team the diggers himself! He's out there hustling. He wants to win for the Red Wings. He wants to win for me. He wants to win for you. I wish more Wings fans could see that now.
Here's a guy that has sacrificed so much. He's an amazing guy to have in the dressing room. He's bled for his teammates. He's played on one freakin' knee for them! He hasn't been healthy since 2009, yet he continues to eat up ice time and EARN his spot on this roster. He wouldn't make this team if he didn't earn it. Holland and Babcock have said so themselves, the best 12 forwards hit the ice every night. No reason to lie to us fans.
Dan Cleary deserves to be recognized as a true, great Red Wing. He deserves your respect. I hear the cries for Anthony Mantha and Tomas Jurco getting buried in the AHL… but let's be serious here. Those kids don't have the heart that Cleary has. I don't want someone on this roster to put up empty points. I want someone on this roster to put up points of passion.
A wise super hero movie once said, "the night is darkest before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming." Well the darkness of Kyle Quincey is over. The Dawn of Daniel Cleary is here. He's not only the hero Detroit deserves, but also the one it needs right now.
Let us never forget that hockey is a game of passion. It's a game of love, pride and integrity. All of those words are synonymous with Daniel Cleary.
Deep down we always knew you'd never leave us.
Let's Go Red Wings.