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Red Wings might waste cap dollars on illegal, unenforceable promise to Dan Cleary

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Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

We've always had kind of a rocky relationship with the Detroit diggers. Heck, it's one year ago today that we got to host a special report from Michael Petrella about the state of the relationship between the Red Wings and the beat reporters paid to cover them. Today, we've got an absolute gem buried in a story about the team re-signing Louis-Marc Aubry to a one-year deal.

From Helene St. James

There's also still the Daniel Cleary situation to resolve. When he was brought back, at former coach Mike Babcock's insistence, in 2013, it was with the understanding that the Wings would make good on some -- not all -- of the money that Cleary left on the table when he didn't accept the Philadelphia Flyers' offer ($8.25 million over three years). The Wings might end up re-signing Cleary for one last year, but even if that happens, general manager Ken Holland has told Cleary that he won't make the NHL squad. If Cleary gets the same $1.5-million contract he had last season, the Wings would get $925,000 in salary cap relief by sending Cleary to the minors.

If your stomach is churning as hard as mine, welcome to the club.

We've already covered in depth, why re-signing Dan Cleary is a bad idea for the Red Wings. For one, Dan Cleary is not a valuable player and that the "loyalty" aspect of bringing him back should really have an opposite effect in showing potential free agents that you'll never be as loved as success story reclamation projects who have been with the team for a long time. There's also a little thing about how promising to make up for how much Dan Cleary walked away from in Philadelphia is absolutely illegal.

The good news so far? Helene is the only reporter saying this, and Helene has been known to be kind of thin on the rules in regards to Dan Cleary, last year stating that in order to solve a potential roster crunch, Cleary would be placed on long term injured reserve "with or without a genuine injury" (another thing that is absolutely illegal under the CBA)

But why $1.5M?

Ok, so the cap hit would be less than $600K, based on the increase of the minimum NHL salary this year, the cap relief would actually be $950K, so the cap hit for burying Dan Cleary in the minors to happily collect money that Ken Holland legally could never promise him in the first place would be $550K.

The question is, if Dan Cleary signs this contract knowing he's not going to make the team, then he knows he's not playing anywhere else in the NHL either. This will essentially be the end of his NHL career. Why does the contract have to be for more than the amount that the Wings can bury this year? couldn't they sign him for one year at $900K and then sign him again next year at $600K if they're dead-set on cheating anyway?

The answer is they should do none of these things and that Dan Cleary should not get a player's contract from the Red Wings.

Bringing Him On Board

Another option for the Wings is to simply bring Cleary into the front office to help in some sort of coaching/player development/scouting position. A lot of people ask why the Wings can't simply pay Dan Cleary $1.5M to be a scout.

While I don't have a problem with Dan Cleary getting a front office job, they definitely shouldn't pay him more than what NHL scouts generally make (which I'm pretty sure is not $1.5M).  The problem with this is that the CBA does specifically state that if you bring on a former player to do front office work, his salary needs to be in keeping with what people at that position generally make, otherwise you'll find yourself in trouble for violating the CBA (since it looks an awful lot like you're trying to pay a player money you couldn't give him during his playing days by paying him an exorbitant amount to be a scout).

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It's mid-July and hockey news isn't flowing as freely as it was two weeks ago. There's a good chance that this is just some overstated fluff thrown into a quick news tidbit that we don't have to worry about. I very much hope that is the case because any means of paying Dan Cleary $1.5M this season is a bad idea.