DETROIT (AP) -Russian star Pavel Datsyuk signed a seven-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, preventing the center with great hands and dazzling moves from becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer.
"Everyone in the organization wanted him to stay with us," said team owner Mike Ilitch.
Datsyuk, who leads the Wings with 87 points - 27 goals and 60 assists - has gotten better each year since making his debut with the Wings during the 2001-02 season. As a rookie he tallied 11 goals and 24 assists in 70 games and raised the Stanley Cup at season's end. He managed 51 and 68 points the next two seasons, before playing with Moscow Dynamo during 2004-05 when NHL players were locked out.
In 2005-06, Datsyuk recorded 28 goals and 59 assists, but posted a disappointing three assists in a five-game upset loss to Edmonton in the first round of the playoffs.
"This contract was extremely important to me," Datsyuk said. "Especially since I have been a Red Wing since 2001."
General manager Ken Holland said Datsyuk's deal represents the longest contract extension in team history.
"Pavel really wanted to commit here for his career," Holland said.
"In the end we felt very comfortable with a long-term commitment to Pavel," the GM said.
Ilitch singled out longtime captain and current team executive Steve Yzerman for his insistence that the Red Wings' management retain Datsyuk.
"We felt it was extremely important to lock this player up for as long as we can," Yzerman said at an afternoon news conference at Joe Louis Arena.
The Wings lost 3-2 in a shootout Thursday night in Chicago, but clinched their sixth straight Central Division title thanks to the point they earned in the game. Detroit needs one more point to secure its third consecutive Western Conference title and first in the post-Yzerman era.