Pavel Datsyuk Announces Retirement From NHL, Return to Russia

Apr 1, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (13) looks on during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena. Red Wings win 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

What was once a report turned into reality for the Detroit Red Wings, Pavel Datsyuk, and Red Wings fans on Saturday.

In a press conference at Saturday noon time on the East Coast, Datsyuk made it official that after 14 seasons in the NHL with the Red Wings, he intended to return to his native homeland to be closer to his teenage daughter. He has not yet signed with a KHL team.

The initial speculation came out early April. The 37-year-old has one more year left on his contract, which pays him $7.5 million per year. However, because Datsyuk signed the contract after turning 35, the Red Wings will be stuck with that cap hit for the 2016-17 season despite him no longer playing for the team or in the NHL.
Originally drafted in the sixth round by Detroit in the 1998 Entry Draft, he recorded a career total of 918 points (314 goals, 604 assists). He also won the Selke Trophy for the League’s best defensive forward three times. He helped lead the team to three Stanley Cup Finals, winning two Cup championships in 2002 and 2008.

I myself have had the great privilege of watching him play as a hockey fan. Watching him on the ice was something special, whether it was hockey sense, his offense, his two-way ability, or the way he was able to dance through his opponents. There’s a reason there’s a deke named after him. You’d have to be insanely good for that to happen, and he was just that.

I will forever remember watching this video, when Datsyuk absolutely dangled former NHL goalie Tomas Vokoun, who then played for the Nashville Predators.

Of course, this was literally an identical goal to when he undressed another former NHL goalie, Marty Turco, who then played for the Dallas Stars.

I’m sure there’ve been very few, if any, teams that have been left off the hook from his amazing stick handling ability. That includes my beloved San Jose Sharks.

If I remember correctly, this was also on Logan Couture’s birthday. Boy, did I feel sorry for him. Or maybe he should be glad that he got to go up against one of the best two-way forwards to play the game. Either way, you can’t help but just marvel at his offensive ability and his ability to strip opponents of the puck. Just absolutely amazing.

It’s going to be really interesting to see how Detroit handles this situation. Will GM Ken Holland trade away what’s left of Datsyuk’s contract, or will he let it remain with the team?

Best of luck to you, Pavel Datsyuk. We wish you the best of luck in Russia.

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