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Injection to blame for Cleary's setback

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Veteran forward Daniel Cleary last played Jan. 28, in the Red Wings' 5-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – If it weren’t for bad luck Daniel Cleary would have no luck.

The Red Wings forward, who hasn’t played since before the Olympic break, rolled the dice when he decided to go through with an injection that was supposed to relieve knee pain while prolonging the veteran’s season.

“Long story short, I did something to help or make it easier to play, help the knee go along and I had a reaction to the shot,” Cleary said. “It's kept me off the ice for a long time.”

During the break, Cleary received the injection made from a natural substance that lubricates and cushions knee joints. The injected painkiller – called Synvisc-One – can provide up to six months of osteoarthritis pain relief; however, inflammation is a side-effect that has since sidelined the veteran winger.

Cleary has missed the past 22 games, including all 17 since the Olympic break.

Cleary had two Synvisc-One injections in the past that did as prescribed, but former forward Tomas Holmstrom had a similar side-effect to the injection that cost him a significant amount of games two years ago.

“There's like a one percent chance of getting a reaction out of it and I was that one percent,” Cleary said. “Just swelled up real bad, took three weeks for the swelling to go away. I had to drain it numerous times. So now it's starting to feel better.”

The setback has been frustrating for Cleary, who signed a one-year contact on the first day of training camp last September just to play a ninth season with the club. Used mainly as a third-line winger this season, he produced four goals and eight points in 52 games.

Cleary has had knee problems in the past, he even underwent off-season surgery two years ago to address concerns with two Baker’s cysts that had formed behind his left knee and caused other internal damage. He dealt with excruciating discomfort, even having fluid drained nearly every 10 days in the last half of the 2011-12 season.

The injection in February was supposed to get Cleary through the remainder of the regular season and into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“It's a lubricant, a lot of people have had it. It helps and I wanted to do it for the last 20 games and make the transition to the playoffs like easier, I guess you could say, and I had a one percent reaction. It's quite fitting, actually, how you see we've gone this year with injuries on the team. It's like, really? That's how it's been.”

Cleary has skated on his own a number of times, though he hasn’t been on the ice since Saturday. Until he can get back to skating in full practices he doesn’t have a timetable for a possible return.

He said he hopes to begin practicing later this week.

“Obviously you train off the ice,” Cleary said. “You're out a week or 10 days or a month or two months, whatever it is, there's nothing like game condition no matter what you do so you gotta get games, that type of setting. I don't know if I'm going to be able to get it so we'll see.”

It’s possible that injection’s side-effects will ultimately cost Cleary his season. And while he’s not worried about that, he will continue his rehabilitation as if he’s returning soon.

“I'm not worried about that. It could be (over) if I'm not able to get it as strong as I need to get it but working towards that,” he said. “Listen, rehab and not playing is way harder than playing. Let's put it that way. You try to get out of that area as quick as you can.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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