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Datsyuk unsure of where he will play next season

Center will decide between Red Wings and Russia after playoffs

by Paul Harris / Correspondent

DETROIT -- Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk said Monday there is a chance that he will remain with the team next season.

Datsyuk had told the Detroit Free Press that he will leave the Red Wings after the Stanley Cup Playoffs and return to Russia in a story that was published Sunday.

"It's hard to make a 100-percent decision now. Now it's just more focus on the playoffs," said Datsyuk, 37 and in his 14th NHL season.

Detroit will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in an Eastern Conference First Round series that starts at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, FS-D, FS-F). It's a rematch from last year's first-round series won by the Lightning in seven games.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported April 2 that Datsyuk was considering playing in Russia next season. At the time Datsyuk said he was focusing on the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs and that he would further address the situation when the season ended.

Video: DET@FLA: Datsyuk rattles home power-play goal

But in the Detroit Free Press story published Sunday, Datsyuk said he would leave the NHL after the playoffs to return to Russia because his daughter is there and he wants to be closer to her.

Monday, though, he said how the playoff run goes could affect his decision.

"[It will] probably have a chance," Datsyuk said. "You never know what happens. It's hard to make a decision on what happens tomorrow, today. But everything is possible. It's not final decision 100 percent."

Datsyuk said he doesn't think his future will affect his teammates.

"I just take responsibility for this one. I don't think it will be a distraction," Datsyuk said. "With us together, we will make a good run."

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said the uncertainty surrounding Datsyuk is not an issue.

"Our focus continues to be what it's been. Anything involving players next year, we'll sit down at the end of the season and talk things over," he said. "Our focus is 100 percent on this playoff series, on Tampa on Wednesday, and I'm glad [Pavel] is in our lineup on Wednesday."

Video: DET@DAL: Datsyuk smacks rebound into net for the win

Added goalie Jimmy Howard: "That's [Pavel's] decision. He's been here a long time. Whatever he wants to do, I'm happy for him."

Datsyuk had 16 goals and 33 assists in 66 games. He missed the first six weeks of the season recovering from surgery in June 2015 to repair ruptured tendons in his ankle.

Selected by the Red Wings in the sixth round (No. 171) of the 1998 NHL Draft, Datsyuk has played his entire NHL career with the Red Wings. He is one of four players with at least 300 goals (314), 600 assists (604) and 900 points (918) for the Red Wings. The other three are Hockey Hall of Fame members Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman and Alex Delvecchio. He also helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup in 2002 and 2008.

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