Datsyuk will take time before deciding playing future

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After the Red Wings were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs on Thursday night, the focus quickly shifted from the end of their season to the future of their superstar.

Pavel Datsyuk, who suggested he was “done playing in the NHL” earlier this month, was asked the big question in the aftermath of Detroit’s 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay — what does the future have in store?

The answer, from the Free Press:

“I can’t believe we lost,” he said. “Really emotional.”

Datsyuk has a year left on his contract but has said he wants to return to his native Russia to play before fans there and to be near his daughter from his first marriage.

He needs time to consider what is right for him and his family, and weigh it against potentially hurting the team that’s meant so much to him the past 14 seasons.

“I’m not thinking about two days or how many days,” Datsyuk said. “I need a little bit cool down and emotions go out and start thinking about it more.”

If this was Datsyuk’s final salvo in a Detroit uniform… well, it didn’t go very well.

The 37-year-old struggled mightily against the Bolts, going pointless over the five-game series. After firing seven shots on goal in the opener, Datsyuk put just eight on net in the following three games and had three more tonight.

His departure, should it happen, would prove complicated for Detroit. He has one year remaining on a contract that carries a $7.5M cap hit, meaning the club would most likely need to move his deal.

Datsyuk has been hobbled by injuries over the last few years, but, as the ’14-15 campaign attested, can still play at an elite level when healthy. The “Magic Man” was a point-a-game player — 65 in 63 games — and was a key catalyst in keeping Detroit’s consecutive playoff appearance streak alive.

His head coach, Jeff Blashill, would definitely like to see him back.

“Pavel is one of the best competitors there will ever be in this league,” per the Free Press. “He was amazing to coach this year. I hope I get a chance to coach him again next year. His work ethic is unreal.”