Datsyuk leaves KHL team; Red Wings return possible?

Getty
11 Comments

When Pavel Datsyuk left the NHL for the KHL after the 2015-16 season, it felt like he was putting an end to his playing career in North America.

Not so fast!

On Tuesday, Datsyuk announced via social media that his days with SKA St. Petersburg have come to an end.

“The St. Petersburg stage of my career has come to an end. These were the memorable years,” Datsyuk wrote (quotes have been translated from Russian to English). “I want to say thank you to the SKA club. In St. Petersburg, there are wonderful conditions for games and training, attentive staff – all this helps to concentrate exclusively on hockey.”

Earlier this year, Datsyuk’s agent, Dan Milstein, told a Russian media outlet that his client wasn’t ready to retire. And after Datsyuk made his announcement on Tuesday night, Sportsnet’s Ellliotte Friedman reported that Ken Holland had talked about the possibility of bringing the veteran back into the fold.

The Russian forward is expected to be back in Michigan in the next little while.

Holland, of course, is no longer the general manager in Detroit, but he remains in the organization. Steve Yzerman will now be the one to decide whether or not bringing Datsyuk back makes sense for this young Red Wings team.

Even though he doesn’t appear to be the most vocal guy in the locker room, the 40-year-old’s experience could help turn this Detroit franchise around. And let’s not forget that he showed he can still play. The veteran posted 12 goals and 42 points in 54 KHL games last season.

During his last NHL season, Datsyuk had a respectable 16 goals and 49 points in 66 games with the Red Wings. At this point of his career, the Wings don’t need him to be the go-to guy anyway. He just needs to help them with their transition from being a rebuilding team to a competitive one.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.