I'll admit, some time during the second round against the Ducks, I was trying to send ESP messages to Mike Babcock, begging him to scratch Dan Cleary in favor of... just about anyone. Play after play, Cleary would skate into the offensive zone, then coast into the corner with his head down, get plastered up against the wall, then slowly get up as Anaheim skated off with the puck. Then he scored the series clinching goal in game 7, put a whooping on Chicago and had a respectable series in the Finals. If my ESP message had reached Babs, we could have lost in the second round, which is why I get paid $0 to write articles for friends and family, most of whom don't even like hockey. So, now that I have managed to distance myself from any credibility, here's what I think Dan needs to do this season to help the Red Wings:
As I have said in previous articles, this season needs to be all about defense and that system fits Dan Cleary, perfectly. 2007-08, when Detroit won the Presidents Trophy and the Stanley Cup by smothering their opponent with team defense, Dan Cleary scored 20 goals in 63 games. Last year, when Detroit played poor defensively, Cleary scored 14 goals in 74 games. More games, less goals. The most troubling stat, however, is his +/-. He went from +21 to EVEN.
Dear Dan Cleary,
Since Detroit lost roughly 80 goals worth of offense over the summer, your fans would greatly appreciate it if you could score 20 goals or more and have a +/- of about +20 or so. Wings fans want to see the 2008 Cleary. Please leave the 2009 version in Newfoundland.