Pavel Datsyuk has no problem breaking water-bottle holsters, but will he hesitate to break Detroit Red Wings fans’ hearts?
Let’s set aside the future and its unknowns for a second and relish the moment above.
Trailing the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 and in danger of going down 3-1 in the series, the most magical player on the ice/planet takes the puck at his own blue line and strides down the left wing. Making a swift move to the outside in order to create space from Ducks defender Luca Sbisa, Datsyuk snipes a bullet of a wrister high over goaltender Jonas Hiller’s near shoulder.
The metal ring fastening Hiller’s Gatorade bottle to the roof of his net goes flying off, and the puck exits the cage nearly as fast as it entered — so fast that teammate Mikael Samuelsson thinks the play is still alive and fires the rebound back at the net.
“You have to give them credit where credit’s due. Datsyuk’s a world-class player,” Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler told reporters. “He pretty much puts the team on his shoulders.”
After Datsyuk’s snipe, his first of the series, whisked his team back into the game with just 6:33 left in regulation, the rejuvenated Wings finished the comeback and knotted the series a two when Damien Brunner (number 24 in your program) knocked in the OT winner.
Now for the potential bad news. Or good news, if you’re a massive Kontinental Hockey League supporter.
With Datsyuk entering the final year of a contract that pays him $6.7 million annually, 2013-14 could well be his last North American campaign.
According to scuttlebutt around the league, the veteran is considering finishing his professional career in Russia. Datsyuk, you’ll recall, return to his homeland during the lockout and thrived with CSKA Moscow.
His next contract could be with the KHL and not the Wings.
“Obviously, I’ve heard the rumours,” Detroit GM Ken Holland told NHL.com last week. “I have not had any real conversation with (Datsyuk) or his agent, Gary Greenstein. Gary lives in California and I just saw him the other day. Basically we’re going to sit down at the conclusion of this season, before Pav goes home. I don’t know what will come out of it.
“We’ll talk before he goes home sometime in June, but anything beyond that is speculation,” Holland added. “Nobody’s told me anything. They haven’t told me they’re staying or going. I haven’t asked either. We hope he wants to stay, but I’m certainly aware there’s a professional league in Russia and they pay their players well. Beyond that, I don’t know.”
Datsyuk was asked about his next contract by Sovetsky Sport last week. The Russian news outlet had just awarded him the trophy for best Russian in the NHL, a honour given to Datsyuk by his peers.
“Let’s live to see 2014. By law I can’t even think about options until I have an existing contract with the Red Wings,” the star said in the interview, which was translated by Dimitry Chesnokov for Yahoo Sports! Monday.
What Datsyuk didn’t say was, “I would love to re-sign a multi-year deal with the Red Wings and finish my career in the NHL.”
So enjoy him while you can, Wings fans. Savour the magic.