On Saturday afternoon, the second worst-kept secret in hockey was finally official. Pavel Datsyuk announced to a small contingent of media, that he would forgo the final year of his 3-year $22.5 million deal and return to Russia to finish out his hockey career. Sighting family reasons, the “magic man” leaves the Red Wings in a bit of a jam. His $7.5 million cap hit will count against the only team he’s ever known and it’s unlikely they would find a team to eat it for them without giving up a aspiring prospect. If Detroit attempts to terminate the contract, the situation remains unchanged.
Datsyuk is undoubtedly one of the greatest Red Wings players of all-time, ranking 6th all-time in points, 7th iin goals, and 5th in helpers. While his play has dropped slightly, he still has plenty left to offer any team, in this case it will most likely be SKA St. Petersburg. One of the NHL’s premier talents flew quietly in the shadows of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin while doing things like this, or like this, and this.
His wizardry inspired Apple to include his name as the answer to the “who is the magic man?”, his skills on the ice caused Red Wings and neutral fans alike to do double takes of the dekes, passes and goals that he made ever so effortless. The NHL is certainly worse off without having a respected and feared player like Datstyuk and we are now all deprived of unintentionally hilarious interviews.
Datsyuk leaves the league with two Stanley Cups, four Lady Byng’s, 3 Selke’s, four All-Stars appearances and is ranked 5th in points (918), 3rd in assists (604) and 9th in goals (315) among Russian-born players. He will return to North America as captain of the Russian national team at the World Cup of Hockey this fall