Dan Cleary says he’s about 50 percent. Will play game 1 in Nashville.
The question most seem to be asking: Is Cleary at 50% better than anyone else the Wings could plug in on the second or third line?
Personally, I don’t think so. To be effective, Cleary needs to be able to skate strong, which he can’t do on one knee. He’s not Steve Yzerman, who made a legend out of doing that in 2002.
More importantly, as calming of a veteran presence as he may be, his style of play is not irreplaceable. Chris Conner could step onto the third or fourth lines and the Red Wings as a whole wouldn’t blink.
If it’s experience the Wings are worried about, they had no problem putting Cleary out in the 2006 playoffs having played a total of 10 NHL playoff games to that point. Conner sits at nine playoff games played in his career.
I understand loyalty to the guys who got you there but it’s a long season, sometimes getting you there is all they can do. When the Red Wings were beat up and had a ton of injuries, Cleary played through his to make sure the Wings made the playoffs. Now that they’re there, it’s time for someone to take over for Cleary.