It wasn’t an insane deke or a beautiful snipe, but yesterday Pavel Datsyuk once again made my jaw drop. This time it was his words in an interview for Russian news outlet, Championat, and they’ll be sure to bring a smile to the face of any Red Wings fan.
“There’s no question I won’t look into any potential NHL deals but only with Detroit. But now I’m in SKA and I’m happy,”
It’s not quite a definitive statement of a return, of course, but it’s enough to bring hope that we’ll see the Magic Man in the Winged Wheel once more. He may be 38 now, but he’s still got plenty to offer. This past season, his first in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), he helped St. Petersburg SKA win the Gagarin Cup – the KHL’s Stanley Cup – which is named after Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space. Datsyuk put up a respectable 34 points (12G, 22A) in 44 games.
Before making the move back to Russia, Datsyuk played in over 1000 games for the Red Wings, 953 in the regular season and 157 in the playoffs. In those games, he averaged 0.96 points per game (314G, 604A, 918) during the regular season and 0.72 points per game (42G, 71A, 113) in the playoffs. He’s also won two Stanley Cups, four Lady Byngs, three Selke Trophies and has been named in the NHL’s 100 for 100 as one of the best players to have appeared in the NHL.
As well as hinting at a return, Datsyuk also discussed the Red Wings missing the playoffs, ending their fabled 25 year playoff streak. “Quite truly I think…it’s good the Red Wings did not make the playoffs. Every year there were talks about making it or not. And it’s a great responsibility to make,” he said. He’s right, of course. Missing the playoffs will help the organisation rebuild for the future, but would things have been different if Datsyuk was still around? It’s up for debate, but Datsyuk seems confident that the Red Wings are heading in the right direction. He added “Detroit did not (lose) its face without me. The face is there. But (the) team’s rebuilding, has a lot of young guys.”
There’s absolutely no doubt that Datsyuk is a legend in Detroit, and he’d be welcomed back with open arms should he choose to return. He’s got one more year left on his contract in Russia, and the fact that he’s declared his happiness would appear to rule out any suggestion that he’s going to cut his stay in his home land short.
He may choose to stay in Russia, but we’ll keep the #13 jersey free…..just in case.