DETROIT -- While its founders may have been fishermen and sailors, the small town of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland has also kept strong loyalties to its hockey players.
It is the home of Red Wings forward Dan Cleary – who hopes to make history as the first Newfoundlander to have his named etched into the Stanley Cup.
Cleary became the second native of Newfoundland – the first in more than 40 years – to complete in the Stanley Cup finals. Alex Faulkner, also a native of Harbour Grace played for the Red Wings from 1962-64.
With 209 points (84 goals, 125 assists) in 540 games over 10 NHL seasons, Cleary ranks second on the all-time NHL scoring list among Newfoundland-born players, trailing Keith Brown (68-274--342).
Cleary has certainly made his mark here in Detroit – especially in the playoffs – scoring one of his two goals in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals against Pittsburgh.
For Newfoundlanders and Detroiters alike, Clearly is a special player.
“He’s a real useful player for us,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He can play on your checking line he can also play on your top six forwards he can play on the power play, he kills penalties. Those types of players are hard to find.”
Cleary has spent the past three seasons with the Red Wings.
“He’s had two great years for us,” said Holland. “A year ago he had a breakout year. He had 20 goals and 40 points. He’s a real good two-way player. He’s become a net font presence for us.”
Cleary was looking to have an even bigger year this season, but a fractured jaw forced him to miss 19 games between February and March.
“He was on pace to maybe get 30 goals and between 50 - 60 points,” said Holland. “In the last few games, he’s finally starting to get back to where he was prior to getting injured.” MAKING HIS MARK:
On Jan. 10, Cleary played in his 522nd NHL game and passed Darren Langdon for the No. 2 sport for the most NHL games by a Newfoundland-born player. Cleary now trails only Keith Brown, who played in 876 games.
Dan Cleary’s successful penalty shot in Game 5 of last spring’s Western Conference quarterfinal vs. Calgary (4/21/07) was only the second successful penalty shot in franchise history. It was also the only successful penalty shot taken in the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Prior to Cleary’s successful penalty shot, Petr Kilma was the only Red Wings’ player to score on a penalty shot in the playoffs. He scored on April 9, 1988 at Toronto on Maple Leafs’ goalie Allan Bester.NICK MAKES EUROPEAN HISTORY:
If the Wings win the Cup, defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
will become the first European player to captain his team to a Stanley Cup title. Lidstrom has already won three Cups with Detroit, and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy (as playoff MVP) in 2002.
Lidstrom is only the fifth Red Wings’ captain to lead his team to the Stanley Cup finals. (Steve Yzerman, Ted Lindsay, Sid Abel and Doug Young are the others.)
Lidstrom is appearing in his 16th consecutive playoffs, setting a new Red Wings’ record for consecutive appearances in the postseason. The record was originally established by Yzerman, who played 15 consecutive postseasons with Detroit from 1991-2006.
In Game 5 of Detroit’s first round playoff series vs. Nashville, Lidstrom moved past Yzerman for most career postseason games played in team history. Lidstrom has now played in 212 career postseason games. Yzerman played in 196 playoff contests. CENTURY CLUB:
Lidstrom recorded his 100th career postseason assist in Game 3 of Round 2 vs. Colorado. Since then, he has added seven more assists to bring his career total to 107. Lidstrom needs one more playoff assist to catch Denis Potvin (108) for seventh all-time among NHL defensemen. GM DEBATE:
As the Red Wings and Penguins prepared for Monday’s Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena, a few blocks east, the NHL general managers met for a committee meeting at the Detroit Marriott to discuss possible changes, one of them, regarding the issue of injury disclosure to the media.
“Over the regular-season, I don’t have as much of a problem disclosing that a player has an injury and that he’s out for a period of time because the season is six months long,” Holland said. “But I really think once you get down to late regular-season … sometimes you only play seven-game series and you’re eliminated. And to be worrying about whether a player can play three and four weeks from now, I think the fans here in the playoffs are only concerned with the game that night.”
The issue of injury disclosure has come to the forefront only in recent years – as teams try to search for advantages against opponents.
“Obviously, there’s a competitive aspect,” added Holland. “The games are huge, and you know if the other team’s got a player hurt in some areas, you’re going to try to obviously go a little harder in that area.”
“From my perspective, it allows players to target other players,” Anaheim GM Brian Burke said. “You saw that the other night with (Johan) Franzen. It’s common knowledge he’s got a head injury and someone pokes him in the melon.”
While Burke insisted that this not an immediate priority, he acknowledged it is a growing concern for the NHL.
“Our team does it, too,” said Burke. “If we know a guy’s got a bad shoulder, we’re
gonna throw the puck in his corner; if he’s a defenseman, we’re gonna
try to get him on the fore check and hit him hard. I think it puts your
players at risk.” DRW.com writer Lindsay Unger contributed to this report