Since entering the NHL in 1997, Dan Cleary has 191 goals and 264 assists in 1,073 career games. (AP)
His name and jersey number were included on the list of 21 players scheduled to take the ice at 8:30 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Center, but Daniel Cleary never showed.
That's because, as it turns out, he had no plans to come here. Cleary has instead rejoined the Detroit Red Wings. According to the Detroit Free Press, the deal is for one year and worth $1.75 million.
"I heard from Dan’s agent late last night that he had just decided to stay with Detroit," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "I think they, at the end, from what I understand, had offered him a contract and he was open to accept that, and that’s the reason he’s not here on a tryout."
Cleary, 34, signed a professional tryout with the Flyers Tuesday -– and, according to reports, had agreed to a three-year, $8.25 million contract that would become official at the end of the month, when NHL teams are required to submit their rosters to the league. The Flyers were unable to sign him immediately because they are already more than $2 million over the salary cap.
Wednesday had been a day full of “will he or won’t he” guessing games, as after Holmgren said he still expected Cleary to arrive Thursday morning, TSN reported that the veteran winger was instead meeting with Ken Holland, GM of the Detroit Red Wings, and Mike Babcock, the team’s coach. But even then, when Holmgren was under the impression Cleary would eventually arrive in Philadelphia, he knew the veteran winger was having doubts.
"I had a couple conversations with Dan leading up to even two days ago, when he had agreed to come on a tryout," Holmgren said. "I knew that he wanted to be in Detroit. He was hanging around all summer, and things worked out, so good for him. He had eight years there and was hoping to continue his ride with the Red Wings, and that’s good for him."
Detroit had reportedly offered Cleary a deal over the summer, but Cleary elected to hold out. In all likelihood, once the Red Wings' brass realized he was serious about heading to another team in their conference, they again tried to work with him. The deal in Detroit, in addition, guarantees Cleary money -- had he come to the Flyers on a tryout and gotten injured before Oct. 1, he might never have signed that three-year deal.
"I don’t know what happened there, I can’t speak to that," Holmgren said, "but I got a voicemail message from him this morning, and a text message. One of the things that makes him a good player is he’s a character guy and obviously he had deep roots to the Red Wings organization, and I can’t fault him for that. Actually, I probably think more highly of him now than I did two days ago."
Had Cleary reported to Flyers training camp as expected, he likely would have earned the vacant left wing spot on the Flyers’ third line. That spot will now be open to competition and quite possibly will be filled by a younger player. Holmgren name-dropped forwards Tye McGinn, Michael Raffl and Scott Laughton as possible players who might fill that spot.
One name Holmgren didn't mention in the same sentence as that open position is Simon Gagne, whom many believed would get a training camp invite as well. Gagne will not be joining the team at camp.
"We kind of closed that off there a few days ago when we decided to make the commitment to Dan on a tryout," Holmgren said. "I think right now we’ll probably just stick with who we got."
Marc-Andre Bourdon (post-concussion syndrome) and Mark Alt (concussion) did not participate in Thursday's on-ice sessions. Alt, who sustained a concussion in Monday's rookie game against the Washington Capitals' rookies, will be evaluated again Friday.
Andrej Meszaros, working his way back from an injury-riddled 2012-13, took partin the full camp schedule.