Red Wings’ Datsyuk could leave for Russia after this season

Elliotte Friedman and Damien Cox discuss all the news and rumors around the NHL, including the possibility of Pavel Datsyuk heading back to Russia.

Pavel Datsyuk could leave the Detroit Red Wings and return to play in Russia following this season, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

If Datsyuk does leave the NHL it would be due to family reasons. Neither Datsyuk nor the Red Wings are commenting on the situation. It is expected that Datsyuk, his management team and the Red Wings will sit down at the end of the season to discuss a final decision.

Datsyuk, who turns 38 in July, is still under contract with the Red Wings next season – he is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2017. Even if Datsyuk leaves, his $7.5-million salary cap hit would remain on Detroit’s books next season since he signed his latest contract after he turned 35.

Drafted 171st overall by Detroit 1998, Datsyuk is one of the truly great players of his generation. In 949 career regular season NHL games (all spent with the Red Wings) the three-time Selke and four-time Lady Byng Trophy winner has 314 goals, 602 assists for 916 points. He won Stanley Cups with Detroit in 2002 and 2008.

The Red Wings are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in a quarter century. If they in fact fail to qualify for the post-season it’s possible there’s only three games remaining Datsyuk’s remarkable NHL career. A sad thought for hockey fans to ponder.

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