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Without skates, Datsyuk still dazzles on ice

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

STRATHCONA, AlbertaPavel Datsyuk’s teammates often marvel at the things that the Red Wings’ center does on ice. But Friday afternoon, the All-Star may have top himself.

The Wings used a day off in the middle of their four-game road trip, spending a fun afternoon playing broomball on an outdoor rink at the Strathcona Athletic Park, about 25-minutes south of Edmonton.

Played on a regulation ice hockey rink, players hit a ball – a little smaller than a soccer ball – around the ice with a stick called a “broom,” with wooden shaft and a rubber-molded triangular head similar in shape to that of a regular household broom. Player usually wear special rubberized shoes for traction, but Wings’ players and coaches used regular athletic shoes, which made for a few comedic moments as guys slipped their way through the games.

But not Datsyuk, who flawlessly crisscrossed the ice surface, often in a sprint while helping Team Emmerton claim the tourney championship.

“He’s amazing,” said Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, as he watched the Russian star navigate the ice. “He must have something on the bottom of those shoes that grip the ice.”

Friday’s competition was the second such event that the Wings have done this season.  In October, players and coaches took target practice at the Canton Police Department’s gun range.

The Wings gathered at Rexall Place Friday morning for a team meeting, then assigned four of the younger players – Jakub Kindl, Cory Emmerton, Jan Mursak and Justin Abdelkader – as captains, who “drafted” players for the four teams before making the bus trip to the outdoor facility.

However, unlike last weekend’s All-Star game, Datsyuk was not drafted first overall, and Lidstrom went in the third-round. Kindl used the first overall pick to select fellow former NHL first-rounder Niklas Kronwall.

The Wings were originally scheduled to practice at an outdoor rink in Edmonton Friday in advance of Saturday’s game against the Oilers at Rexall Place. But coach Mike Babcock made the decision to ditch practice for broomball.

“I thought, ‘What the heck,’ so I told Pete (Bill Peters) last night, ‘Let’s do broomball,’ ” Babcock said. “So Pete phoned his buddy and got it all organized.”

SEE MORE PHOTOS: Red Wings Broomball Tournament

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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