Daniel Cleary and the '94 Bulls
My cousin played two seasons for the Belleville Bulls in the mid 90s. In 1994-95 he started 39 games in net for the Bulls which meant I was following that team closely. The big story that season was a fifteen year old Newfoundlander named Daniel Cleary.
It was Cleary's first of four seasons in Belleville and he finished his rookie campaign with 81 points. This kid was highly touted right off the bat and labelled a future star with can't miss potential. He was a first round pick and when Cleary made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in 1997-98, I was watching.
After playing limited minutes in Chicago he found himself in Edmonton for a stretch where he proved useful but didn't shine as the potential all-star we were expecting. After a brief trip to the desert in Phoenix, Cleary ended up a Red Wing and I had all but given up on him.
On a team with Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and Robert Lang, it's Cleary who leads the Red Wings in goals with 17. That's already the highest goal output of his career. Unbelievably, that 15 year old kid is now 28 years old and is now playing the way it was always believed he could.
Better late than never.
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