DETROIT -- The Red Wings have elevated center Pavel Datsyuk to assistant captain this season, joining Kris Draper and Henrik Zetterberg in a rotation of assistant captains.
Coach Mike Babcock said the time was right to add the new role to Datsyuk's resume.
“The more leadership you have the better off you are," Babcock said. "We’re not asking him to replace anybody. We’re just letting everyone know that he’s an important part of our leadership group. But we’re letting him know that that’s what’s expected, as well.”
Datsyuk, 29, has led the Red Wings in scoring in each of the last two seasons collecting 27 goals and a career-high 60 assists in 2006-07, and 28 goals and 59 assists in 2005-06.
After signing the longest contract in franchise history (seven years) last April, he went on to lead the club in goals (eight) during the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs.
“When (Steve) Yzerman left, we were talking to a number of the guys, and I talked to Pavel about being an assistant captain at that time," Babcock said. "He told me he wasn’t ready and that his English wasn’t good enough. I’ve been around him; his English is good enough. He’s a big part of this team.”
Since 2005-06, Datsyuk ranks seventh in the NHL in assists (119), 12th in points per game (1.14) and 13th in points (174). Datsyuk has played all 363 of his NHL games in a Red Wings' uniform.
A six-year veteran of the NHL, Datsyuk won the Lady Byng Trophy in back-to-back seasons, the latest in 2007. He had a breakout season in 2003-04, racking up a career-high 30 goals on his way to his first NHL All-Star Game selection.
In his first NHL campaign he won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2002.
Not known as the most-vocal guy in the locker room, Datsyuk is more of a leader by what he does on the ice, which is invaluable to the younger players on the club.
“It’s not about talking. It’s about modeling,” Babcock said. “I tell everybody that he even tapes his stick better than anybody I’ve ever seen. He just does it right, this guy. He’s phenomenal.
“He’s a great example for guys like (Jonathan) Ericsson, (Niklas) Kronwall, (Brett) Lebda. Some times you do more by doing less. You let the game come to you and make the play that’s there. A lot of young guys try and force things. You don’t force things. Some shifts in a game are 50-50 -- nothing goes on. Understand that, and that’s what our young guys have to learn.”