Well Done, Young Man

This is Michelle Phillips. Her story and the story of one of the subjects of this post crossed paths when both sang for the 1960s pop band “The Mamas and Papas.”

Denny Doherty was born in 1940 (Halifax) and became famous as the tenor and lead vocalist on songs like “California Dreaming” and “Monday, Monday.” He also enjoyed all the trappings of pop success (including a one year affair with Phillips and a proposal of marriage from the other female band member, Cass Elliot) and in later years talked openly about just how crazy things got for the four members of the band in the 1960s.

If you want to find out more about the band (who were really only popular for a short while) a quick zip around the Al Gore will tell you all you want to know about use and abuse. I’m not going to bother here because Denny Doherty is long gone and that isn’t really the point of the story.

The point of the story is that talent, combined with overcoming obstacles, is compelling no matter the walk of life. Denny Doherty was a splendid singer, so good in fact he ranks with the best and unique Canadian pop vocalists of the era (Burton Cummings, Anne Murray, Alex Machin). He recovered from a crazy time in his life to enjoy life to the fullest (Denny Doherty was married for 20 years to Jeannette, who died in 1998), including being father to three children. My own children enjoyed Doherty’s talents as he was Harbour Master and the voice of the characters in Theodore Tugboat (a children’s TV show) for a time.

————

Daniel Cleary comes from about the same part of the world (born in Carbonear and raised in the Riverhead area of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland) and was also supremely talented. Despite being drafted in 1997, we were finding out about him in the winter of 1994 (when he was 16) as he began playing in the OHL (81 points in 62 games for Belleville). He was drafted by Chicago who hurried him into the lineup and mishandled him badly. Cleary was talented but also raw, and it took several years (and a trade to Edmonton) for him to establish himself at the NHL level with the Oilers.

Cleary was a productive player under rookie coach Craig MacTavish in 2000-01 and got a nice payday and a multi-year contract from the big club. By 2003 mid-season Fernando Pisani had taken his job and the Oilers bought out Cleary’s contract in the summer of 2003.

He was certainly at a crossroads and once again an organization with troubles of their own (the Coyotes) became a place to land for Cleary. Following the lockout, Phoenix didn’t offer a contract.

We know how the story turned out, but that period of his life couldn’t have been much fun. When the worst team on planet earth doesn’t want you it might be time to look at doing someting else. And yet…the guy had talent. No one ever denied it.

Cleary accepted a TC tryout from the Detroit Red Wings, and he worked like a bugger.

He made the team, scored 20 goals and found a home. One of the things good organizations do is put people in positions where they can succeed and Detroit certainly did it with Cleary. Credit to him for taking advantage of it, including another 20 goal season in 07-08.

Despite a broken jaw that forced him to miss 19 games this year and a slump or two along the way, Daniel Cleary was productive and a big part of the team’s success. On March 11, Cleary signed a 5 year contract extension with the Detroit Red Wings for $14 million. And he won the Stanley, the first person from his province to do so.

It’s a great story.

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31 Responses to "Well Done, Young Man"

  1. Black Dog says:

    Its a terrific story LT. Interesting, the other day I was reading through a book called Hockey Towns by Bill Boyd. Pretty good book. Basically he travels around the country talking hockey with people in small towns – people involved in minor hockey, ex NHLers all the way from guys who played in the thirties to a recently retired Steve Larmer, junior and senior players. The gamut. A lot of great stories.

    Anyhow while in Peterborough he sees a game between the Petes and the Belleville Bulls along with a bunch of scouts. Playing in that game, one Daniel Cleary. The knock – all the talent in the world but in danger of throwing it all away due to poor work habits, a kid who shows up to camp completely out of shape, so bad in fact that he is still not in the best condition halfway through the year.

    Good for him for turning it around. His remarks after they won the Cup shows he knows how close he was to losing his career and the emotion he showed when his wife, daughter and parents came onto the ice was a wonderful moment.

  2. Bruce says:

    A fantastic accomplishment … the whole island must be Rocking. I know this Newfoundland native had tears in my eyes when Danny lifted the Cup over his head. It’s been a long wait since Alex Faulkner was the first — and until now the only — Newfoundlander to play in the SCF, way back in 1963 (my first Finals). A lot o’ water under the bridge since then!

    This guy was not the greatest overdog in the world, but turned into a hell of an underdog. Don’t know what it is about Detroit, but after years of gradual, if erratic improvement (some of which we watched up close and personal), Cleary suddenly blossomed from can’t-play-for-Phoenix to an extremely useful role player capable of moving up to play with the big boys.

    In his 7 full seasons Cleary’s goal-scoring has been pretty strange: 14, 10, 4, 6, 3, 20, 20. That’s a mighty long slide, 13 goals in 202 games over 3 seasons. The 20-goal season (and 20-assist) in ’06-07 really came out of the blue, but he backed it up with another this year, and a fine +21 to boot. And the Stanley Cup.

    Well done, Daniel!

  3. Black Dog says:

    oh, btw, Michelle Phillips? Hubba hubba!

  4. HBomb says:

    Good on Cleary. I was NOT a fan of the guy when he was here, because he did not produce worth a damn. But it’s impressive how he’s turned it around.

    And as much as I’ve railed on the guy in the past – Craig MacTavish needs to get some credit for turning Cleary into a player. He was on the checking line with Horcoff and Marchant in the first half of 02-03 and really started to transform himself into a guy who played at both ends of the rink. That had to play a role in his renaissance as a pro player, don’t you think?

    My worry is that the Oilers give up on Torres and he goes somewhere else and becomes the next Cleary – but better.

  5. IceDragoon says:

    What a good woman can do for you… right, Danny boy?

    Way to go, champ.

  6. Art Vandelay says:

    So he’s a hero because he finally stopped squandering his talent? That’s an odd measuring stick.

    /Cold Water Delivery Service

  7. Julian says:

    It’s a fantastic story LT, it’s why I was rooting for the Wings. I’ll have to read all the stories i can find on the day he brings it back to NFLD.

    And Art, it’s a story of redemption, those are always big.

  8. Dennis says:

    I don’t know if she’s a “good” woman or not — I have to say that I have a lot of friends who are married to the opposite of “good” women;) — but I do know one thing: she’s damn well hot.

    I got a kick out of it all the other night; seeing the tail that was married to Cleary and Maltby. I’m sure those guys would have found such picks of the litter if they didn’t have fame and/or money.

    I have sorta of a different opinion on Cleary and NFers in the NHL; I’m not a provincial guy at all and I think of myself more as a Canadian than I do a NFer. That’s why it makes me a little sick when Lowe, or anyone for that matter, gets on with old shit like “good western boys” and garbage like that. For my money we’re all in it together, but, hey, maybe that’s just me.

    It’s hard to describe how big Cleary USED to be; I remember the local Cherry’s being full the night he played his first game in Colorado and once he found his way to the A with the Bulldogs, the old Stadium would be loud and rowdy. But people sorta forgot about him when he went on bad times and I think there’s a lot of people who won’t forgive him for wasting what seemed to be a golden ticket. It’s one thing for a guy to be a plus player who’s gritty — fuck knows I like these guys — but Cleary was being pimped by Don Cherry and lauded as a 15 and 16 year old, so people expected him to make a scoring impact.

    And once Ryder had his breakout season, he was the new flavour of the week and continued to be the hero even while struggling this year. I was one of the guys who kept saying I saw the potential in Cleary when he played on the checking line with Horc-Marchant but while it was cool that I had an NFer on the Oilers, he wasn’t any more of an Oiler than anyone else. If you know what I mean.

    My GF’s father is one of those guys who has a huge chip on his shoulder when it comes to Newfoundland: he thinks everyone’s out to get us all the time. I remember him staying at our place one time just before christmas and it was the season Cleary was in an awful slump and the GF’s Dad would talk to me on the phone and ask me if macT was giving him the screwjob. So, we’re watching this game and Cleary’s mired in a terrible slump and MacT’s still giving him PP time. So, I turned to the old fella and asked him if he still thought MacT wasn’t doing what he could for the kid.

    But, Cleary fellow out of favour with the local fans and, as I’ve said many times, I’ve played slo-pitch against Micheal Ryder the last four years and some of his teammates played on our league team and I’ve been in his company multiple times but I’ve only ever spoken to him once and that was the first time I met him and asked him about Jani Rita.

    BTW, the scouting report on Ryder for slo-pitch is that he has one of the worst swings you’ll ever see but he absolutely creams the ball. But he’s got no ball sense and despite being able to make diving stops at SS and leaping catches in the OF, he’ll never do it on a consistent basis.

    Anyway:)

    But, yeah, Ryder’s the golden boy because he was a late round pick and he worked his ass off to get the job. Meanwhile, Cleary was the biggest kind of an asshole as a young fella, drank his way around a few stops in the league and never really developed into a scorer. I’m sure there are a bunch of kids who’ll cite his raising the Cup as the same kind of polarizing event for their NHL dream like the Amonte’s and Weight’s do with Lake Placid but I’m still not sure the adults are really back on board with him.

  9. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: Unless the adults are priests and nuns they must have blown a chance or two along the line themselves. I really don’t understand the idea that someone from NF wouldn’t be proud of the guy.

    As for “we’re all in it together” yeah I hear you. However, this is the first time someone from NF has had his name on the Stanley and that has to count for something.

    Hell, here in Alberta where there’s someone from NF every five steps people were pleased for him.

    I guess there are people everywhere who would rather piss on someone than clap their hands.

  10. Dennis says:

    LT: Let’s not get into the whole “NFers in Alberta” thing. I can see the way Newfoundlanders are perceived and mocked and it would be easy to be like the GF’s father. But I choose not to let that eat at me because it’s not really healthy, and besides, I’ll save my teeth-knashing and windmill-attacks for Lowe and the Pronger trade:D

    I didn’t get into my feelings on Cleary; good for him is basically the way I see it, but if he doesn’t give something back to his community — which was a place where the support was pretty much across-the-board — then I’ll be disappointed.

  11. Baroque says:

    After the parade on Friday, the local folks who normally cover the Wings were talking to some of the players as they started collecting on the stage for the rally. One of the players they talked to was Dan Cleary.

    After he won the Cup, he said he felt as though a huge weight came off his shoulders. It might be silly for one guy to carry an entire province on his back, but he said that was how he felt – that he was trying to win the Cup for the entire province.

    He said that after the lockout, when he wound up trying out for Detroit in training camp, the other team his agent was talking to was Toronto – and his agent told him that JFJ was really interested in him, but he had a gut feeling about Detroit, despite the fact that he figured Babcock gave him about a 0% chance af actually making the team – since Babcock cut him from the juniors team.

    Earlier in the season, when Babcock was asked about Cleary, he mentioned the talent and lack of work ethic when he was young – and said that when Cleary came in to training camp, he told him “you are going to have to show me you have learned to work harder than you did when I cut you.” Apparently he did.

  12. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: Fair enough.

  13. IceDragoon says:

    Dennis: Contrary to many a feminine opinion; a woman can’t change a man. From my experience, only self-serving women try. That said, a man can choose to change for the right woman. It would seem that Daniel Cleary has turned his life around.

    I’ll save my teeth-knashing and windmill-attacks for Lowe and the Pronger trade:D

    If you’re ever looking to lessen the ‘teeth-knashing’ strain on your jaw, perhaps recalling ‘Lowe and the Salo trade’ might help.
    ;-D

    Have a good one, Dennis.
    :-)

  14. Dennis says:

    Louise: I wish I could find that article but not too long ago it was written that at the time of the Salo deal, the Avs gave the Oilers three choices for a return: Gilbert, Keith Ballard and a guy whom I can’t remember but I’m pretty sure he was local; and that’s why it stunned me Lowe didn’t take him. So, Lowe had a 67% chance of success and he actually succeeded so good on him;)

    The other part of any lauding for any Salo deal is that anyone with sense knew Tommy was done after watching the ’03 playoffs. That goal by Boucher in G6 is about as bloody bad as it gets and Salo was brought back and basically rotted the bloody head off the ’04 team.

    To close, I would have an easier time believing that certain women were “good” if they weren’t drop-dead gorgeous and married to Shreks like Cleary and Maltby.

    I’m not a hip-hop devotee by any means, but I believe Kayne West wrote a song about these womens;)

  15. IceDragoon says:

    I wish I could find that article but not too long ago it was written that at the time of the Salo deal, the Avs gave the Oilers three choices for a return: Gilbert, Keith Ballard and a guy whom I can’t remember but I’m pretty sure he was local; and that’s why it stunned me Lowe didn’t take him. So, Lowe had a 67% chance of success and he actually succeeded so good on him;)

    Ya gotta be lucky to be good… etc…
    ;-D

    The other part of any lauding for any Salo deal…

    Not lauding, by any stretch. I just imagine you spewing coffee thru your nose whenever you see someone mention Salo. Today I needed a little distraction, so I picked some low hanging fruit. You know how it is.
    ;-D

    …is that anyone with sense knew Tommy was done after watching the ’03 playoffs. That goal by Boucher in G6 is about as bloody bad as it gets and Salo was brought back and basically rotted the bloody head off the ’04 team.

    Bang on, and I have never once disagreed with this.

    To close, I would have an easier time believing that certain women were “good” if they weren’t drop-dead gorgeous and married to Shreks like Cleary and Maltby.

    Ahhh…

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and much more than skin deep. I(‘ve) know(n) many seemingly mis-matched-mates who have/had lifelong love and happiness.

    Heck… If you knew my husband and then met me for the first time, you’d probably wonder, “what the h- does he see in her?”, but he’s been hopelessly in love with me for 38 years this month.

    Love is blind, and Cleary has, apparently, ‘grown up’.

  16. Dennis says:

    Louise: Still not buying it.

    ANY of it;)

  17. Oilman says:

    I’ve seen some incredibly gorgeous women walk away from rinks with the likes of Tim Hunter and Ken Daneyko – for once – I’m with Dennis (and Kanye)

  18. danny says:

    Dan Cleary has had his demons. He has had family problems from a young age, and has been a heavy drinker probably from the age of 17 onward.

    But for whatever reason, it looks like he has changed his life in significant ways, and it seems he feels like he owes it to his wife and child.

    Changing who you are is no easy task, and usually involves experiencing loss/failure, getting older, maturity or hitting rock bottom.

    I reckon that Daniel falls into a few of those categories. But the good part of the story is that he did it, and he did it before it was too late to make a good life for himself and his family.

    A Newfoundlanders name on the cup is a byline to the story really, but i’m pretty happy to see Cleary succeed.

    Whats most annoying is listening to guys like Terry Ryan blame the world for his shortcomings.

  19. IceDragoon says:

    Gentlemen:

    I will concur that there are, indeed, many ‘money-for-love’ marriages. People tend to find what they look for, and they usually get what they deserve. meh… Life is a series of choices and consequences.

    I take people at face value until they give me reason to doubt them.

    About a year or two ago Dan Cleary credited his wife and Craig MacTavish for the change in his life and his hockey game. I think MacT handled the hockey part.

    A pretty wife may cause the suspicious to suspect, but at this point, there is no logical reason to doubt Cleary’s sincerity.

    Until a reason presents itself…
    I’m cool…
    And, I hope you both have your hearts stolen by good women.
    :-)

    L8r

  20. Master Lok says:

    Dennis, I believe the third option that Colorado offered for Salo was Boychuk.

  21. Dennis says:

    Louise: Cleary’s wife is beyond pretty, he’s beyond average looking and he’s beyond rich; throw them all together and it doesn’t pass the smell test.

    Danny: I asked LT earlier not to get me started on how people perceiver NFers; and the reason why Stauffer loves Ryan is that — for lack of a better term — you know how some black sports columnists talk about black athletes catering to the old white ideals; bojanglin’ is what I think they call it.

    Well, that’s Ryan, right there. He does his segment on Stauffer’s show and he plays the fucking clown. There’s more to our province than guys like him who pissed away their shots at fame; the same way there’s more to Albertans than a bunch of guys who didn’t get HS diplomas but made a mint in the oilfields. But, the difference is there isn’t a sports show down here that likes to illuminate one kind of denizen rather than the other and Ryan plays that role to the hilt.

    To re-state, a fucking clown.

  22. Black Dog says:

    Late to the party but here’s a good line that is apropos.

    Peter Crouch is a gangly beanpole who plays soccer for Liverpool. He looks like the quintessential Englishman.

    Once asked what he would have been if he wasn’t a footballer Crouch replied:

    “A virgin.”

    Ba dump bump.

    Instead he is presently holidaying in St. Bart’s with a lingerie model.

  23. danny says:

    dennis… I dont listen to Stauffer, but you can’t be serious regarding Terry Ryan having a segment on the show??

    Why?

    I’m guessing for the same reason Howard Stern invites amateur porn stars onto his show? A sideshow act without dignity.

    That is bullshit.

    A guy who played 8 NHL games in his career, has what exactly that puts him on Staufs map? I guess ‘Newfies ‘ have entertainment value, especially in Alberta.

    Sad.

  24. Oilman says:

    I haven’t heard Ryan on Stauffers show – but I’d imagine the only reason he’s there is that someone noticed a former 8th overall pick playing senior mens hockey in Stony Plain with the Bentley Generals….he’s a novelty – nothing more.

    BTW…the best story of a hockey player from NF is that of Andy Sullivan – who chose the fish plant over pro hockey after never playing an organized game until he was 18 years old – and went on to score at a decent clip in the AHL as a 35 year old who’d get called in on an emergency basis on game days if the baby leafs were short.

  25. Oilman says:

    danny….have you ever heard the Chris Rock shtick about the difference between black people and …well, see for yourself. I’ve told people there is the same difference between and Newfoundlander and a Newfie. Alberta is full of Newfies and has a few Newfoundlanders. Sounds like Terry is a Newfie.

  26. Dennis says:

    A lot of people lived like Ryan did in his 20′s; fuck, the reason why NFers drink and screw so much is that it keeps you sane:) It’s the same reason why NFers are so bloody funny; if you thought about how depressing it is to live here, then you gotta make light of it. And, consequently, you know how to make fun of other people as well:)

    The difference is, though, this is who Stauffer picks to go on his show and Ryan plays the part to a tee.

  27. Oilman says:

    dennis – what kind of stuff is Ryan saying? I remember reading something a few years back where he accused the Canadiens of basically black balling him so that, not only would they not give him an opportunity to make the club, they had also ruined his name around the league so no one else would touch him. Is he still on that?

  28. Dennis says:

    The first one that caught my ear was Ryan saying he knows a lot of NFers who turned their back on their Habs fandom because they felt he didn’t get a fair shot.

    That’s so far from the truth that I don’t even know how to begin to debate it. Wait, no, I know exactly how to debate it: most of my buds are Habs guys and to a man they thought he made his own bed by coming up and trying to be the tough guy all the time and forgetting his niche was popping a few goals while ALSO being able to fight.

  29. Oilman says:

    There’s a guy on my beer league team that also plays for the Stony Plain Eagles. He said it was weird lining up for a faceoff against a guy that was a first round draft choice – but he’s not much of a player anymore – not to the point where he stands out amongst the other senior leaguers.

  30. IceDragoon says:

    Dennis: As I said, “People tend to find what they look for…” I learned a long time ago that I had to find some heaven here on earth if I was to survive the hell here on earth. It’s all good.

    A lot of people lived like Ryan did in his 20′s; fuck, the reason why NFers drink and screw so much is that it keeps you sane:) It’s the same reason why NFers are so bloody funny; if you thought about how depressing it is to live here, then you gotta make light of it. And, consequently, you know how to make fun of other people as well:)

    The most wicked comedy is born from pain & despair. The endorphins that flood our brains when we laugh are potent relief, indeed. And yes, a little crazy does keep the insanity away.
    ;-D

    The difference is, though, this is who Stauffer picks to go on his show and Ryan plays the part to a tee.

    I’ve been turning Stauffer off more and more. There’s been a steady drop in quality/IQ since Mark Spector cut back his time, imho. Ken Reed and Terry Ryan certainly have nothing to say that I want to hear.

    Bob seems to think that pandering to the closed-minded, ‘fire the coach’ crowd; and making **** up for the ‘trade everyone’ video gamers; and having guests who insult the listeners; is good sports radio.

    Not from where I’m listening, or not.

  31. Bruce says:

    I don’t spend a lot of time listening to Stauffer’s show either, but if I happen to be out driving at that time of day and I think of it I might turn it on (although there’s a reason it’s called commercial radio).

    Last time I heard Stauffer he was going on about how to “fix” the game was to stop tinkering with it and simply make it all four-on-four all the time. What a stupid goddam suggestion, nothing would change the character of the game faster than that … I’d rather have bigger nets for fuck’s sake. I happen to like a modicum of hitting and grinding it out, and I’ve always had a soft spot for those guys they call “centres”.

    Anyway it’s been my luck to catch Terry Ryan’s shtick three or four times, and he just blathers on for about 20 minutes straight without taking a breath. Amusing for a while, and occasionally he has interesting things to say about old friends and rivals from the Dub, but the believability quotient is away down there. As they say, never let the facts get in the way of a good story … and he’s certainly a story teller. He comes across like the loudmouth at the bar who’s trying to impress everybody. Which is not the way to impress me.

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