TRAVERSE CITY — Daniel Cleary is a Detroit Red Wing.
Take your pick. The 14-year NHL veteran signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Red Wings on the first day of training camp in Traverse City.
After eight years in a Red Wings uniform, it appeared the 34-year-old’s days in Detroit were over. He was on the verge of a three-year deal with Philadelphia when he suddenly backed out and talked again to Red Wings management about a return.
“It’s been a hectic few days for me, for sure,” Cleary said. “I just followed my heart and I wanted to be happy.”
A deal with Philadelphia seemed like a lock just days ago after the free agent hadn’t garnered a tremendous amount of interest, despite a solid playoff performance last season.
“Tuesday, I was ready to go to Philly,” Cleary said. “And then I just couldn’t go. I decided to come out and meet with Babs and Kenny to get closure on the situation. I had to know deep in my heart, ‘Was it going to happen?’ We figured out a way to get something to happen, to get something signed.”
Cleary reportedly had an offer for a tryout contract from the Flyers, with the potential to earn a three-year, $8.25 million contract — $2.75 million a year. Instead, he took $1.75 million to return to Detroit.
“I’ve got a great relationship with Kenny (Holland) and I believe in myself,” Cleary said. “I just think we’ll see how it plays out. I know people are probably thinking I’m not the smartest guy or whatever, but I have to do what is right for me — and I did it.”
Cleary said he passed his physical Thursday and is expected to skate with the team in today’s practice and scrimmage.