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Datsyuk to play in Russia next season?

bob fina via flickr.com

With the playoffs quickly approaching, the focus in “Hockeytown” is all on the Detroit Red Wings. The team currently sits 2 points up on the Boston Bruins, who they face tonight with a chance to clinch their 25th straight playoff birth, the most by any team. Things have gone fairly well for the Red Wings this season, with young forwards, Dylan Larkin, Tomas Tatar, and Gustav Nyquist all emerging as scoring threats, as well as veterans Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk continuing to play at a high level. Even with questions in goal, whether Petr Mrazek or Jimmy Howard will prove themselves as the starter in net, the team looks destined for a deep playoff run.

But once the season ends, the Wings could be losing a key piece to their team. Star forward Pavel Datsyuk could be leaving the Red Wings during the off season to play in Russia next season. Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman reported that Datsyuk, who has a year left on his contract, is considering playing in Russia next season for family reasons.

Daysyuk has played his entire career, 14 seasons, with the Red Wings, tallying just under 1000 points in his career as a Red Wing. Datsyuk, a 4 time all star, has won 2 Stanley Cups, 2002 and 2008, and was awarded the Lady Byng Memorial Trophey, given to the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability”, 4 times in his career, in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. Outside of scoring, Datsyuk was and still is considered one of the top defensive forwards in the league, winning the Frank J Selke Trophy, which is awarded to the best defensive forward in the league, 3 times, in 2008, 2009, 2010. He has been a leader in Detriot throughout his career, and has served as an alternate captain since 2007.

While Datsyuk leaving would be a major loss to the team on the ice, it would also hurt them financially. Under the new CBA, the cap hit of any player who signed a multi year contract at 35 years of age or older will count against the team until the contract is up, even if the player is not active. In Datsyuk’s case, his cap hit, $7.5 million, would count against the team next season, whether he stays with the team or leaves for Russia.

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