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Datsyuk returns to Red Wings

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT (AP) - Pavel Datsyuk is back with the Detroit Red Wings, spurning the chance to go home to play in Russia.

Datsyuk signed a two-year contract on Monday that will pay him $3.9 million US per season. "We're obviously very happy that we got Pavel back," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "He's a talented young player that had a very good year for us two years ago, and we're hoping for more of the same. With the new rules, I think skilled players like Pavel are really going to be helped."

The restricted free agent, his agent and the Red Wings had been negotiating since before the NHL lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season.

The 27-year-old Russian signed a contract earlier this month with Avangard Omsk of the Russian SuperLeague. That deal was matched by Moscow Dynamo, another SuperLeague team that Datsyuk played with during the lockout.

Those moves created doubts that Datsyuk would return to Detroit this season.

He had a breakthrough season in 2003-04, finishing tied for the team lead with 30 goals and totalling 68 points.

Datsyuk was a standout during the past two regular seasons and lacklustre in the post-season, like most of his teammates. He didn't score a goal in the 2003 or 2004 playoffs and had just six assists.

Datsyuk is the final major piece of the puzzle Holland had to get into place under the league's new $39 million salary cap - about half of what Detroit has spent in the past.

Holland re-signed another restricted free agent, forward Henrik Zetterberg earlier this month and brought back veteran centre Steve Yzerman. Almost a month ago, Holland said he was not close to re-signing Datsyuk or Zetterberg, who was also a restricted free agent.

Detroit hosts the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 5 in the season opener.
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