Skip to Main Content

Datsyuk leaving Red Wings to play in Russia

Center spent 14 seasons in Detroit, says 'It's time for us to return home' @NHLdotcom

Center Pavel Datsyuk said Saturday he will play at home in Russia and not remain with the Detroit Red Wings for the 2016-17 NHL season.

"This was not an easy decision but it's time for us to return home," he said during a press conference at his hockey camp in Orchard Lake, Mich.

Datsyuk, who turns 38 on July 20, had one year left on a three-year, $22.5 million contract with Detroit. The NHL salary-cap charge associated with his contract ($7.5 million) would count against the Red Wings' salary cap for the 2016-17 season.

More information

His agent, Dan Milstein, said Datsyuk did not take a $2 million bonus he was owed in February, which Milstein said was contingent on Datsyuk playing in the NHL in 2016-17. However, that has no effect on the salary-cap charge.

"I made it a tough situation on my team, but I believe in our management," Datsyuk said. "They are the best in the NHL. They [will] make this happen."

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Saturday a few NHL teams expressed interest in trading for Datsyuk's contract, but he was skeptical a trade would happen because of the additional assets it would cost Detroit to clear salary-cap space for one season.

"We'll see if I can move the contract," Holland said. "I'm not overly optimistic. ... Certainly you're going to be compromised by having $7.5 million tied up in a player that you don't have. It's a huge loss, it's a huge hole, and it's a very, very difficult situation."

Holland said Datsyuk will sign NHL retirement papers, making him ineligible to return 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 in May.

Video: BOS@DET: Datsyuk nets 900th point with goal

"I went on vacation with my family, just relaxed and made a final decision," Datsyuk said. "… I made sure my mind was fresh and it was not just emotional. It's important, because it's very important for my hockey career. This is why I just go away."

Datsyuk, who is from Sverdlovsk, Russia, said no one with the Red Wings tried to influence his choice.

"Everybody gave his opinion, but they said 'It's your decision,'" he said. "'What you do, we support you.'"

Holland said he's disappointed but understands.

"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 said he had been thinking about leaving the NHL for a number of years but found it tough to leave Detroit. In April 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.

"I'm thinking I'll go home after this season," he said April 10. "I may not be done with hockey, but -- it's hard to say -- I think I am done playing in the NHL."

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

He later said he needed to think about it more after the Red Wings were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Milstein said Datsyuk had been offered a contract by St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League in May. On Saturday, Milstein said Datsyuk has offers from multiple KHL teams and that he would discuss them with Datsyuk soon.

Datsyuk had 49 points (16 goals, 33 assists) in 66 games this season and became the fourth Red Wings player to reach 300 goals and 600 assists, joining Hockey Hall of Fame members Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman and Alex Delvecchio.

Datsyuk helped the Red Wings reach the playoffs for the 25th consecutive season but had no points in five games against the Lightning.

Selected by Detroit in the sixth round (No. 171) of the 1998 NHL Draft, Datsyuk spent 14 seasons with the Red Wings. He has 918 points (314 goals, 604 assists) in 953 NHL regular-season games and 113 points (42 goals, 71 assists) in 157 playoff games.

He helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup in 2002 and 2008, won the Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship) four times (2006-09), the Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) three times (2008-10), and was selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game three times.

Datsyuk also has played for Russia in the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 Olympics, winning a bronze medal in 2002. He'll be with Team Russia at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which will be held from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 in Toronto.

View More