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From the editor's desk: Dan Cleary and the price of loyalty

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The Arizona Coyotes would do well to learn from Dan Cleary's 'loyalty contract' with the Detroit Red Wings.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes could learn a lot from how the Detroit Red Wings have handled Daniel Cleary over the past couple of years. Namely, how not to consider loyalty.

The Red Wings gave Cleary another one year contract last week despite the fact that Cleary's best days as an NHLer are very, very clearly behind him:

At one point in his career, Cleary was a 20+ goal scorer. Nowadays, he's not even an everyday player. So why do the Red Wings continue to sign him?

The short answer (from a USA Today article on Dan Cleary's previous one year signing in 2014) is all about loyalty. And rewarding Cleary for sacrifices made in the past.

When Daniel Cleary left $6 million on the table last fall in Philadelphia to return to Detroit, there was an agreement made that it would be ameliorated by the Red Wings.

The Arizona Coyotes may find themselves in a similar position with a player who has shown them more loyalty than anybody else in the NHL: Shane Doan.

Doan's loyalty to the Valley is admirable; he reportedly left as much as $7 million on the table to re-sign with Arizona in the summer of 2013, despite not yet having stable ownership. He stuck out a bruising season this year despite the fact that practically nobody in Phoenix would begrudge the captain the chance to make a run for a Stanley Cup somewhere else.

So what do the Arizona Coyotes owe Doan for his loyalty? If they're smart, nothing.

That isn't to say the Coyotes shouldn't at least explore the possibility of making Doan a Coyote for the rest of his career. Though Shane Doan will be 39 next season, he is still a very competent player:

Shane Doan is a good third liner compared to the rest of the NHL. He is a great leader in the locker room. He should receive a contract worthy of both. But he should not be "made whole". He should not receive a contract based on what he may have received in the past.

The Captain becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. His time with the Coyotes has been invaluable to the development of hockey in Arizona, and he deserves to be mentioned among Valley sports greats like Luis Gonzalez and Larry Fitzgerald.

But there is one name he should not be mentioned alongside: Dan Cleary. It's up to the Coyotes to decide whether or not that happens.

Thoughts

  • What made Louis Domingue return to North America? For now, he's the only one who knows. Perhaps one explanation is how much ice-time he'd receive in Europe vs. in North America.
  • The longest season outside of North America is the Kontinental Hockey League's 60 game schedule. The Springfield Falcons will play 76 games this year. Even were Domingue to receive 75% of the starts overseas, he'd only play 45 games in Russia. By contrast, Mike McKenna started 52 games in Portland last season.
  • Cat Silverman over at Today's Slapshot brings up a very interesting question about how much Domingue can actually learn from playing in the AHL. It's a very valid argument that's well worth the read.
  • I do think part of Domingue's willingness to return also has to do with the relative stability of NHL/AHL salaries compared to European ones. Mark Dekanich - a North American goalie who made his way to the KHL - is still awaiting 1/3 of his annual salary from last season. Even if a league like the KHL nominally would pay more than Domingue would make on a two-way contract, whether or not he'd actually get that money is a very open question.
  • I also think coming back to the Coyotes organization bodes well for his future in the league, even if that future isn't with Arizona. Is an NHL team willing to take a flier on Domingue if he's shown he's willing to bolt to Europe without telling the organization first?
  • Rookie camp begins this upcoming weekend over at Gila River Arena, culminating in a doubleheader with the rookies of the Los Angeles Kings (both games in LA, unfortunately).
  • One worrying component of the team's rookie camp roster: three of the team's eight invited defensemen are here on an amateur tryout basis, compared to two of 18 forwards. The Coyotes are going to need to replenish their defensive prospects in the next Draft.
  • Though Dylan Strome, Max Domi, and Anthony Duclair will justifiably earn the lion's share of attention this weekend and at full training camp, who else will make an impression on the coaching staff?
  • Apart from the above-mentioned three, I'm very interested to see how Dysin Mayo and Conor Garland fare this weekend. Both have shown significant scoring prowess at their positions (Mayo on defense and Garland on the wings).
  • For Garland, there isn't a whole lot higher to climb after tying for the scoring lead in the CHL with Dylan Strome last year. Mayo has the opportunity to blossom into one of the elite scoring defensemen in major-junior.
  • In all likelihood, both will enter the next phase of their development with specific focuses from the Coyotes coaching staff, in the hopes that they become useful pieces in the Coyotes' rebuild moving forward.