Carbonear, Newfoundland native Daniel Cleary was born on December 18, 1978. On the strength of a solid junior career with the Belleville Bulls, Cleary was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1997, and made his NHL debut with in the midst of his fourth junior season.
Cleary suited up for six games with the 'Hawks in 1997-98 then 35 more games the following year before a blockbuster trade had him traded to the Edmonton Oilers. On March 20th, 1999, Cleary along with Chad Kilger, Ethan Moreau and Christian Laflamme were traded to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Boris Mironov, Dean McAmmond and the rights to Jonas Elofsson. Cleary finished his season with the Oilers AHL affiliate in Hamilton.
After spending the early part of his playing career up and down from the AHL to the NHL, Cleary finally joined the Oilers on a full time basis in 2000-01. An offensively gifted player, Cleary went on to notch a career-high 35 points (14-21-35) during the 2000-01 season and went on to play two more seasons with the club before being acquired by the Phoenix Coyotes in the summer of 2003.
Despite a NHL lock out in 2004-05, Cleary joined Mora IK of the SEL and registered 37 points (11-26-37) in 47 games before signing as a free-agent with the Detroit Red Wings prior to the 2005-06 season. In his first season with the Red Wings, Cleary played 77 games but struggled to produce offensivley. He rebounded in 2007-08 and went on to record his best offensive season, recording 40 points (20 goals, 20 assists) in only 71 games. In the following playoffs, Cleary laced up his skates in all 21 games and became the first Newfoundland born NHL'er to capture the Stanley Cup.
On the international stage, Cleary represented his homeland at the 2002 World Championships.