By: Mike Stone
The NHL and its players are still at odds, but after Tuesday’s marathon negotiating session it appears the season might actually happen. Players and owners are “cautiously optimistic” a deal may be near. We talked to Wings forward Dan Cleary, who has been very active in the negotiations, and he said, “if he was a betting man this week might be a little early for a decision, but the fact that they talked for over 12 hours yesterday is a good sign.”
How optimistic should hockey fans be?
“I think this whole process, it’s been really an up and down roller coaster for everybody, and especially the fans,” Cleary said. “I’ve been in two or three instances where we go into meetings and … the optimism is so high, and it turns out to be completely the exact opposite. Fans, be cautious, be cautious, because there are a lot of things that have to go on.”
He added it’s always positive when both sides are talking, and said talks are “on the right track.” “We have to find a way to get closer and closer … If I was a betting man, I wouldn’t bet on the season being over, that would be so catastrophic … I’m just hoping that can’t happen.”
He added advice for Detroit hockey fans: “Just be patient … It’s a long process and it’s brutal, brutal for everybody involved.”
Wings defenseman Ian White recently called Commissioner Gary Bettman an “idiot,” but Cleary said he doesn’t support any name calling, and thinks Bettman is doing the best he can.
“I think Whitey, he’s an off-the-top guy … But for me personally I don’t think it was the right thing to call the commissioner an idiot. You have to show respect for both sides,” Cleary said.
What has Cleary been up to without hockey?
“I’m in the same boat as a lot of NHL’ers, I’ve become real good at doing crafts, real good at giving foot massages,” Cleary said, joking. “You get to see and do things you’ve never done before.”
Cleary is also behind a great event taking place Saturday night where a bunch of Red Wings — including Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi, Jimmy Howard, and of course Cleary himself — will play in a charity game on the ice at the Windsor Family Credit Union-Spitfire Arena. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. and there will be other NHL’ers playing as well. So if you are a fan of guys like Thomas Vanek, Mike Komisarek, Brendan Morrow, Steve Ott — and many others — you can see them and help a great cause.
All proceeds are going to charity, with one of the charities being “Sparkles From Above,” which helps support childhood cancer patients. The National Hockey League Players Association is donating 25 sets of equipment to local minor hockey associations.