In a story that has gone on way longer than any Dan Cleary story should, it appears this twisted drama has a resolution: Cleary is going back to Detroit.
Cleary, who has been with Detroit the past five seasons, had come to terms with the Philadelphia Flyers on a new contract and was expected to be present at their camp. Only he didn't show up on Wednesday and then it was reported that three-year deal that was in the waiting hit a snag. That snag was apparently Cleary's desire to stay in Detroit.
Cleary told the Free Press around 10:15 a.m. that "I'm back. Signing deal tonight."
Befitting the number he has worn the past eight years with the Wings, Cleary had made an 11th-hour pitch to stay with the team he loves.
General manager Ken Holland said today that he and coach Mike Babcock met Wednesday with Cleary, who then returned to metro Detroit.
Just for confirmation's sake, the Red Wings announced it too. It's happening this time, for real.
Breaking News: Wings agree to terms on 1-year contract with Daniel Cleary, who will fly to Traverse City tonight to join the club for camp.— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) September 12, 2013
So there you have it, Cleary is not relocating after all. And it comes at a much cheaper price than Philly's offer; $1.75 million.
There was definitely some confusion as to what happened. Cleary was given a very generous offer from the Flyers so it was a mystery why he didn't report. There was some speculation that it was called off because details of a deal in place leaked while the Flyers were trying to say it was just a PTO. Turns out that didn't matter, according to Elliotte Friedman, it was just about Cleary having cold feet.
Now the Red Wings have to figure out how to make it work. They already have 25 players under contract and are over the salary cap. That was pretty much the only reason why Cleary considered leaving in the first place, there just wasn't space. But for Cleary they'll make space.
This is the part where I point out Cleary is almost 35 years old and has bad knees. He had nine goals and six assists last season for Detroit. The point is, it's pretty amazing he's been such a big story the past couple of days. A good drama will do that, I suppose.
In the end Cleary is leaving a lot of money on the table, showing how much he wanted to remain in Detroit. This wasn't a situation of using the Flyers for leverage; you don't leverage somebody for less money and less years. This was just a matter of guy changing his mind and deciding the most important thing wasn't money or term, it was staying in Detroit.
Also I have a feeling the Flyers faithful aren't too shook up over this one. That was a pretty crazy offer that Cleary had initially accepted. This helps the Flyers avoid that and move on, which is probably what they should have just done in the first place.