Where Pavel Datsyuk plays next year remains a mystery.
Where he plays next month, though, appears to be set in stone.
Per Sport Express — by way of MLive — Datsyuk will represent Russia at the 2016 World Hockey Championships which, not coincidentally, will be held in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
Over the last month, various reports have linked Datsyuk to a return to his native country next season, even though he has one year remaining on his contract with the Red Wings. The 37-year-old told The Free Press’ Mitch Albom “I think I am done playing in NHL,” but said he might not be done playing hockey.
It’s believed Datsyuk would latch on with a KHL club if he leaves Detroit,. in order to spend more time with his 13-year-old daughter, who lives in Russia.
Following last night’s season-ending loss, the “Magic Man” said he was still undecided about what he’s going to do.
“I’m not thinking about two days or how many days,” Datsyuk explained. “I need a little bit cool down and emotions go out and start thinking about it more.”
At first glance, the situation looks sticky because Datsyuk’s final year — in which he’s owed $5.5 million in salary, and carries a $7.5M cap hit — could be problematic for Detroit’s finances.
But, per TSN’s Frank Seravalli, the issue might not be that complicated:
If Datsyuk does not report for training camp, the Red Wings (or any team which acquires him) can suspend him for breach of contract, two NHL cap managers confirmed on Friday. That team would then not be responsible for paying him any of the $5.5 million due to him in actual cash.
No team, including the Red Wings, would owe him a dollar. Datsyuk’s $7.5 million salary-cap hit, a paper penalty in theory, could prove valuable to a small-market team struggling to hit the cap floor or spending minimum.
Related: Datsyuk’s agent basically gives non-answer about Russia rumors