Friday, January 18, 2008

Nash goal, Clearly Cleary, O'Ree

Wow. I didn't see Rick Nash's goal against the Coyotes until just now. It looks like the goal of the year so far. What is it about the Coyotes surrending goals of this magnitude. You may remember Ovechkin's goal that he scored upside down and backwards came against the Coyotes as well. Well, if you missed Nash's goal, here it is:


Jimbuff brought up a good point by praising Daniel Cleary in the comments section, and that he was a Newfie and all. Now, I hate Red Wings and most players that play for them. But I just can't find it within myself to hate Cleary. Drafted in the 1st round 13th overall by the Black Hawks in 1997, the now 29 year-old winger had high expectations. But for whatever reasons, he did not put up the offensive numbers for Chicago.
In March of 1999, Cleary was traded to Edmonton along with Ethan Moreau, Christian Laflamme and Chad Kilger in exchange for Boris Mironov, Dean McAmmond and Jonas Elofsson. Cleary's speed and grit was evident in Edmonton, from what I remember, yet his highest out put in Edmonton over 4 years was 14 goals and 35 points in 81 games in 2000-01 (IHDB). Injuries played a negative role in Cleary's career over the next couple years in Edmonton and Phoenix (who claimed him as a free agent in 2003.)
Cleary was not signed by any NHL team in 2004, and ended up playing in Europe for that season, where he registered 11 goals and 37 points in 47 games.
I guess that was enough to impress the Red Wings who signed him in 2005. Cleary played in a checking role behind guys like Shanahan and Yzerman, but when both of those legends left for free agency and/or retired, Cleary got his chance to shine. And that is what he has done since then. A career-high 20 goals and 40 points in 71 games last season, including a strong playoff run proved that Cleary had something more to give. This season, he already has 18 goals and 34 points in 48 games. He looks to hit the 30 goal 60 point plateau. He also looks to be getting a substancial raise as he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. How much is Cleary making right now? How about a piddly $662,500 salary. Talk about a steal.
So, I am a sucker for underdogs. And Cleary is an underdog that is now hitting his prime. And regardless of the fact that he wears a stinky Wings jersey, I can appreciate his turnaround and respect that.

Speaking of respect, I can understand a bit all the hooplah surrounding the 50th anniversary of Willie O'Ree being the first black person to play in the NHL. It was a ground-breaking event given the times no doubt. But forgive my harshness when I say: I don't really care about it. I don't get all teary-eyed over it. But I guess I wasn't even near being born during the racist years of the early 1900's. So I can't even begin to understand what O'Ree went through. Personally I find Inge Hammarstrom and Borje Salming's arrival into the NHL just as or more important.
What I mostly think of with this O'Ree situation is: when is a black player going to step up and become a dominant offensive/defensive player? Pokey Reddick and Kevin Weekes are/were decent goalies, and Anson Carter had a decent short offensive NHL career. But not one black man has yet to come along and make a serious impact, unless I am mistaken somehow. And no, Iginla doesn't count, because he is half and half. Just a thought.

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At January 18, 2008 at 8:15 p.m. , Anonymous doobie said...

Well, it's not like the ones who have played in the NHL haven't been trying...I think you first need a black person with an extraordinary talent for hockey first.

At January 18, 2008 at 10:49 p.m. , Blogger Zanstorm said...

Like an Anson Carter on crack.

At January 19, 2008 at 5:04 a.m. , Blogger jimbuff said...

A little info. on Cleary to shed some light on what you were saying.

He was drafted with high expectations and it did take a while for him to finally find his game in Detroit. He has always had the heart but sadly his fitness was his downfall. He was like players back in the day. He would play the season and then return to Riverhead (his hometown)every summer and not do any conditioning at all until training camp opened. He would hang out at the local pup and br there until closing 7 nites a week. This always left him a step behind as players today train all summer long and take their jobs seriously.

When he went to Detroit he met Chris Chelios (a player I am not fond of) who is still playing very effectively at 45 years old and keeps himself in great shape all year round. Anyway, Chelios took Cleary under his wing has had him training with him in the summers ever since. Although I think Chelios is an ass face I do admire the fact he saved Cleary's career and made him into the player he was always capabe of being.

At January 19, 2008 at 1:50 p.m. , Blogger Zanstorm said...

thanks for that, J-Buff. Chelios is an animal no doubt. Yeah, I can remember Cleary playing with lots of flare, but never got the results on paper. Now it looks like he could wear the captaincy in Detroit.

At January 20, 2008 at 8:59 a.m. , Anonymous Doobie said...

Hey, did anyone else but me notice how much Willie O'Ree looks like Scatman Crothers?

At January 20, 2008 at 4:13 p.m. , Blogger Zanstorm said...

GZ Expat mentioned to me through mail that I forgot to mention Grant Fuhr as a decent black player. Good point by him, even though he had a coke problem and played behind an offensive super machine.

doobie: HOLY SHIT! they are twins!


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Waiting For Stanley was created in June 2006.