Dan Cleary Joins Pavel Datsyuk in Detroit Red Wings Sick Bay: Out at Least Month

Matt HutterAnalyst IDecember 27, 2010

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 08:  Dan Cleary #11 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Nashville Predators at the Joe Louis Arena on December 8, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The Predators defeated the Red Wings 3-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

To this point in the Red Wings season, not a whole lot has transpired that reminds one of last year's nearly disastrous campaign.

The Wings sit atop the Western Conference, rather than just outside the playoff picture.

Their talent level is the envy of the league, whereas last season their talent pool was shallower than most.

And, despite many preseason prognosticators, the Wings have a solid No. 1 goalie in net, rather than the sagging veteran and rookie question mark in net this time last season.

The one thing that is starting to remind some of last season is the rate at which Red Wings are appearing on the injured list.

Since breaking out as one of Detroit's most valuable players and leading goal scorer, forward Dan Cleary will be out at least a month with a fractured ankle.

The injury was sustained during Sunday night's game against the Wild.

Cleary attempted to jump high and out of the way of a blistering shot from the blue line by teammate Brad Stuart. However, the puck caught him flush on the outside of the skate, an area with very little protection, and though Cleary finished out the game, the extent of the injury was revealed once Cleary met with the trainers after the 4-1 Wings win.

The loss of Cleary puts the Red Wings in an even deeper predicament than they were in already, as they are just two games into what could be a 12-game stretch without leading scorer Pavel Datsyuk.

Though the loss of veteran third-liner Mike Modano several weeks ago wasn't considered terribly damaging, when combined with the losses of Cleary and Datsyuk, suddenly the Red Wings talent pool has become dangerously shallow.

For any team, losing their leading goal scorer and their top offensive (and defensive) forward could prove to be a disastrous combination of bad luck.

Whether it will prove so for the Wings remains to be seen. 

There are still a number of healthy and talented players to take up the slack.

Still, one wonders if a few players aren't looking around at the empty locker stalls and starting to think, "here we go again."


Follow Matt on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MAhutter12