As many expected, Pavel Datsyuk‘s NHL days are over. The 37-year-old made it official at a news conference on Saturday afternoon in Detroit.
“My family and I are grateful for Detroit,” said Datsyuk. “This was not an easy decision, but it’s time for us to return home.”
Datsyuk leaves the NHL after playing 14 seasons with the Red Wings. The Russian forward scored 314 goals and 918 points in 953 games. He won two Stanley Cups in 2001-02 and 2007-08. Datsyuk also won three Selke trophies, four Lady Byng awards and he was selected as an All-Star four times.
The veteran forward explained that he took time after the season to go on vacation with his family. There, he was able to relax and come to the decision that it was time to return home to Russia to continue his career.
He’s been mulling this over for quite some time.
“When I come back from lockout, my mind is thinking, I want to go home,” Datsyuk said, per The Detroit Free Press. “But also I want to keep playing here. I go with my mind and be OK with another three years, but then it got harder and harder.
Datsyuk will go down as one of the all-time great Red Wings, but there’s no doubt that his contract puts the Wings in a tough position. The team will be charged with his $7.5 million cap hit in 2016-17 because he signed a contract after he turned 35-years-old.
At the same time, Datsyuk did try to help the Wings out financially earlier this year. Datsyuk’s agent admitted that his client refused a $2 million roster bonus in February.
Dan Milstein also had this to say: