Notes home from Clearyland
|GENE J. PUSKAR/AP|
|There's plenty going on in front of the Penguins net as Red Wings forward Dan Cleary slices between Sergei Gonchar and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final on May 31, 2008.|
There’s only one Danny in Clearyland – er, Newfoundland to you – and he’s not Premier Danny Williams.
That would be one Dan Cleary, the Detroit Red Wings forward from Harbour Grace who's fighting to become the first Newfoundlander on a Stanley Cup-winning team.
I’m a political reporter on assignment here but the only politics anybody cares about is whether NHL bragging rights go to Harbour Grace or Cole Harbour, N.S., hometown to that Sidney Crosby guy. As any hockey fan (aka every breathing Newfoundlander) will tell you, the Penguins may have "Sid the Kid," but the Wings have "Dan the Man."
The Rock has hockey fever, every fan praying the Red Wings clinch their 11th Stanley Cup tonight at Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena.
Monday night, the premier, a scrappy player in his own playing days, watched Game 5 at Harbour Grace, expecting the Red Wings to wrap up the series that night. Reportedly, he was on his feet with everybody else ready to celebrate, when the Penguins scored with 35 seconds left in the game and went on to win 4-3 in triple overtime. If the Penguins push it to Game 7 Saturday, Williams will lead a Newfoundland delegation to Detroit. Watch out!
Harbour Grace, on Conception Bay on the Island’s east coast, is a sea of red and white. “As Newfoundlanders, we have to fight for everything that we get,” Mayor Don Coombs told Canadian Press.
“Danny Cleary has taken the character and that personality of our province and made it work for him.”
He can do no wrong. “Cleary gets high scores without scoring,” says a headline today in The Telegram. Sports editor Robin Short, filing from Pittsburgh, notes that, okay, his offensive game “has gone cold of late.” But he says Cleary’s “still contributing in many other ways for the Red Wings.” He’s scored only two goals in 21 playoff games but Short quotes coach Mike Babcock: “It’s hard to score at playoff time. When you’re a good player they’re all over you.”
Hey, I agree. Like Short says, “Cleary’s value to the Red Wings cannot be underestimated.”
A little item on the same page notes that Crosby found Monday’s game a grueling experience, saying his legs “didn’t feel too good, to be honest with you.” And the Penguins’ captain is only 20. Bet Cleary’s 29-year-old legs were okay. Well, maybe not.
Now, I’m a lifelong hockey fan but I kinda lost interest in these playoffs when the Habs went down. I know, I know. So Canadian. But it picked up again with Monday’s marathon and I was leaning to Crosby. Not because of the game, but because he gets a lot of press and I know more about him. Not anymore. I’m a Cleary gal. You gotta respect the folks you’re with. Besides, I still have work to do here.