According to Kukla’s Korner (who cites sources in Detroit), Red Wings super star forward Pavel Datsyuk will return to Russia after the 2013-2014 season when his current deal with Detroit expires.
Pavel Datsyuk turns 36 on July 20th, 2014. That birthday will be celebrated a few months after the last minutes of hockey he’ll ever play for the Detroit Red Wings. Next year will be his last in the NHL and that’s according to a very reliable source in Detroit, someone close to the organization and entrenched in regional hockey programs.
Why? Datsyuk wants to go home. We all understand that. But according to this source, a guy who skates with at least one recently-retired Red Wing and whose family is a staple in the Michigan hockey world, it’s not just the lure of mother Russia.
The Kukla’s Korner report goes on to say that it’s Datsyuk’s desire to show off his skills (while he still has them) in the KHL which is based in his home country of Russia. This desire too could be brought on by the Wings’ move to a seemingly more physical Eastern Conference next season.
Furthermore this is something that Datsyuk somewhat hinted at while playing in the KHL this past year during the NHL lockout and something that our own Jason Bray of The Majors Detroit brought up a few weeks ago.
If these reports are in fact true Ken Holland and the Detroit front office is going to have some extremely vital decisions to make that could shape who the Wings are for many years to come. Do the Wings deal arguably the best player in the league to get what you expect to be a massive haul in return that could shape the team up for more long-term success? Does the team go all out and surround Datsyuk with talent for one more run at the Cup with him still on the team? Or do the Wings just hold their ace in the hole tight and let him leave the NHL a Red Wing?
Now I’m not saying the Wings should deal him now or even during the offseason. It’s my preference that the Wings go into next season, utilizing what cap space they have (while making some strategic moves via trade) and make one last run at the Cup with Datsyuk in the fold. However if this game plan falls short as the season progresses (or they don’t accomplish what they need to accomplish in the offseason) it would be very irresponsible to let Datsyuk walk and get nothing in return.
Either way whichever move Holland makes (again assuming this report is true) will have it’s detractors. It’s not everyday or every season for that matter when your presented a situation like this nonetheless involving maybe the most talented player to ever wear the Winged Wheel. It’s also potentially a move that could determine the fate of Holland himself as well as the entire Red Wings coaching staff.
h/t: Kukla’s Korner