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Datsyuk will leave Red Wings, return to Russia

Bridget Samuels/via flickr.com

NHL

DETROIT-One of the greatest Detroit Red Wings to ever lace them up has decided to go back home.

Center Pavel Datsyuk has decided to forgo the final year of his contract and return home to Russia.

In a press conference this morning, the 37-year-old announced his decision.

“This was not an easy decision, but it’s time for us to return home,” Datsyuk stated.

The four-time Lady Byng winner still had one more year remaining on a three-year, $22.5 million contract with Detroit. Despite him leaving, though, his $7.5 million cap hit will still count against the Red Wings’ salary cap next season.

Datsyuk said he made his decision during a recent vacation after he helped Russia win the bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Championship.

It had been something that had been on his mind for a while now, apparently. Datsyuk stated he had been thinking about leaving the NHL for a number of years but found it tough to leave Detroit.

In April, though, he said his time in the NHL likely was over. His decision came in part because of a desire to be closer to his 13-year-old daughter, who lives in Russia.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland stated Datsyuk will sign retirement papers, making him uneligible to return to the league next season.

As one would expect, Holland respected Datsyuk’s decision, but was sad to see him go. “I’d like him back for another year,” Holland said. “But at the end of the day, I understand why we’re standing here and I’ll deal with it.”

Datsyuk did not state if he was going to continue playing hockey, but his agent said that his client has gotten offers from various KHL teams. He said he would discuss the offers with Datsyuk.

The three-time Selke Trophy winner led Detroit in scoring with 49 points in 66 games this past season. He also notched his 900th career point during the 2015-16 campaign. That point helped him become the fourth Red Wings player ever with 300 goals and 600 assists.

Datsyuk leaves Hockeytown with a legacy that ranks amongst the best in Detroit’s history.

He helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup in 2002 and 2008 during his 14-year career, all with the Wings.

He finishes with 314 goals and 918 points in 953 games. His postseason numbers are also pretty good, with 42 goals and 113 points in 157 playoff games.

Datsyuk was also a three-time NHL All-Star during his career.

Detroit and NHL fans will get to see him one more time, though, in September as he will represent Team Russia in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. 

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