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Cleary wishes he had surgery sooner

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

For the grinding style that Danny Cleary plays for the Red Wings, operating on one healthy leg caused problems for the veteran forward for much of the season and the playoffs. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – There’s a reason that hindsight is 20/20. And for Red Wings forward Danny Cleary he wishes he had better foresight to undergo knee surgery earlier than now.

“I wouldn’t have done the same thing over again,” said Cleary, who’ll have surgery next week. “Looking back on the fact, hoping that it would calm down, it just didn’t.”

Though he only missed seven games this season, Cleary suffered immensely with the pain caused by the two Baker’s cysts that formed behind his left knee. And while there was a point in the season that fluid was drained nearly every 10 days, there’s likely more damage to the knee that surgery should rectify, he said.

“I have some significant issues going on,” Cleary said. “They’ll know more when they get in there. There are a lot of different things in there, there are some tears in there, loose cartilage, some bone on bone, a lot of fluid – the build-up of fluid was a major issue – so hoping that we can get it resolved.”

Cleary’s health issues went from bad to worst this season, first breaking ribs in training camp then he was hobbled by the knee injury, which began in November.

“It was an injury-filled season,” he said. “The broken ribs were a (bad) thing to have for me, the way I have to play; it’s not the ideal thing to have.”

He received pain-killing injections before each playoff game against the Nashville Predators, something that he couldn’t do during the season. But even as he tried to work through the pain, it clearly limited his effectiveness on the ice.

“Listen, I tried as hard as I could, what are you going to do? It’s hard playing on one leg,” said Cleary, who was held without a point in five playoff games. “Every day, just walking alone I couldn’t walk without a limp since November, so the games were really hard.”

It sounds like Cleary will be up and around in 6-8 weeks after the operation, which should allow plenty of time for him to prepare for the start of training camp in September.

Along with forward Patrick Eaves, who missed the final 60-games of the season with post-concussion symptoms, Cleary will be counted on next season to anchor the third and fourth forward lines.

“I thought just this year at the end we didn't have enough depth up front,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We need a healthy Dan Cleary. I think that can make a huge difference for us, but we need to be deeper up front for sure.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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