Okay, this is old news by now but I was thinking tonight about the idea that Daniel Cleary will supposedly have to earn his roster spot and decided to look into some history around that kind of decision.
I think it’s safe to say you don’t give a guy a $2.5 million contract with the intent of dumping him in the minors. Cleary is going to be on the opening night roster, barring injury. So Ken Holland and Mike Babcock (and Cleary himself) saying he has to earn it… Just talk.
But lets say it wasn’t. Lets say the Wings were bringing back Cleary but that Tomas Jurco had just as much of a chance to make the final roster. Would that be as groundbreaking as it seems?
It turns out, yes.
In the Ken Holland era, no veteran has ever been waived at the start of the season in favor of a younger player who could be sent to the minors without passing through waivers.
Okay, yeah Cory Emmerton lost his roster spot to Joakim Andersson last fall but Andersson was out of waiver options. Patrick Eaves and Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson were all sent to Grand Rapids but not at the start of the season.
Derek Meech was waived and sent to GR in 2010 but not in favor of a player who wouldn’t have to pass through waivers.
Kyle Quincey was lost off waivers in 2008 but that was so the team could keep Meech and Chris Chelios.
Before that, we go back to the waiver draft era. Chris Osgood was lost in 2001 when Dominik Hasek was signed to replace him. Brent Gilchrist was lost and then re-acquired in 1998. In 1997, Tim Taylor was lost but because he was out of options, not because someone beat him out.
Not that it’s a surprise but history shows that veterans haven’t needed to earn a roster spot since Holland took over the team.