Red Wings bring back forward Cleary for two years

Updated: July 10, 2006, 3:41 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- Forward Dan Cleary signed a two-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

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He played in 77 games last season for Detroit and had three goals and 15 points.

"Dan's a gritty player, and we value what he brings to the team," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.

Detroit lost forward Brendan Shanahan in free agency to the New York Rangers on Sunday, less than a week after captain Steve Yzerman announced his retirement.

The 27-year-old Cleary was signed by Detroit as a free agent last year after playing for Chicago, Edmonton and Phoenix. He has 127 points in 406 games and had a career-high 35 points during the 2000-01 season with the Oilers.

The Red Wings' top priority this offseason is to sign a No. 1 goaltender after deciding against offering Manny Legace a contract to return. Chris Osgood has been signed as a backup goalie.

Ed Belfour, who had back surgery in April, passed a physical in Detroit last week.

The 41-year-old Belfour was 22-22 with a 3.29 goal against average in 49 games last season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who cut ties with him last month. His 457 career wins -- earned in Toronto, Dallas and Chicago -- trail only Patrick Roy's 551 in NHL history.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press