Detroit Red Wings great Pavel Datsyuk re-ups with Russian team
Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg, Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader and Jeff Blashill answer questions Saturday, April 7, 2018 at Little Caesars Arena.
Former Detroit Red Wings great Pavel Datsyuk intends to play into his 40s.
His agent, Dan Milstein, announced Tuesday that Datsyuk has signed a one-year extension with SKA St. Petersburg in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. Datsyuk joined St. Petersburg two seasons ago, after cutting short his Wings career with one year left on a contract.
Datsyuk said his reason was that he wanted to be closer to his daughter from his first marriage, and to play in front of fans in his homeland. In his first year back in Russia, his second wife gave birth to son, Pavel Jr., and Datsyuk won the Gagarin Cup in 2017.
Moving home allowed Datsyuk to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, where Russia won the gold medal in men’s hockey in a tournament in which NHL players did not participate.
The Olympic gold earned Datsyuk membership in the “Triple Gold Club,” a group of players who have won gold at the Olympics and at the World Championship, as well as a Stanley Cup. Datsyuk has two of the latter, helping the Wings to a Cup in his rookie season in 2001-02, and again in 2008.
He has a chance to add a second medal at the World Championship this spring, as he’s part of the Russian National Team that will compete in the upcoming tournament in Denmark.
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Times have been turbulent for the Wings since Datsyuk departed. Management decided to free up the $7.5 million salary cap hit on Datsyuk’s contract by trading it to Arizona. That was done at the 2016 NHL draft, where the Wings sent the contract along with the 16th overall pick to the Coyotes in exchange for the 20th overall pick, the 53rd overall pick, and Joe Vitale, who was on long-term injured reserve list for the one year left on his contract and never played for the Wings. The Wings used part of the money freed up to sign forward Frans Nielsen.
The 20th overall pick was used to draft defenseman Dennis Cholowski, who is joining Grand Rapids this week after finishing up his last year of junior hockey with 66 points in 69 games (followed by seven points in 12 Western Hockey League playoff games). The 53rd overall pick became defenseman Filip Hronek. He’s headed into the playoffs with the Griffins on the strength of a standout first season of pro hockey. He finished second among AHL rookie defensemen with 39 points in 67 games.
The Coyotes used the 16th pick on defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who has played 118 games with them over the past two seasons, producing 34 points.
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