Hockey’s most sought after ‘magic man’ may have just pulled off the biggest “now you see me, now you don’t” of his career.
Pavel Datsyuk has been dodging the rumors of a potential departure from Detroit all season, until recently. The 37 year old 2x Stanley Cup Champion is on the verge of signing a two year deal with the SKA of the KHL.
In late April he confirmed to Red Wings management he intended on leaving for good once the Red Wings were eliminated from the playoffs.
The average onlooker might have trouble fathoming the notion that Pavel would even consider leaving. Detroit has never missed the playoffs during his tenure. He’s been crowned a Cup champion twice and has never had any issues with management.
On the surface it seems to be a personal, potentially family related issue with Mr. Datsyuk. Typically Russian born players return back to “the mother land” when they deem their time in the NHL has reached its climax.
Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Radulov, Ruslan Fedotenko, Sergei Kotstitsyn and Viacheslav Fetisov are all atop the list of preliminary Russian born players who for one reason or another returned to Russia. Fetisov, was in an opposite position. In the heat of the Soviet Union’s strangle hold on the hockey universe, he wished to leave for the greener pastures of the NHL.
Picture it like this, in the MLB players run to Japan when they have fallen from grace. With the hopes of finding themselves back in the spot light of a major league team and obviously collect a pay check.
Okay, so now that I’ve handed you some background on the situation its time to chip away at what’s really the causes of this rash decision.
Pavel is leaving Detroit at seemingly the worst possible time for a player of his caliber to leave. Detroit isn’t exactly ready for life without this guy just yet.
Granted they have begun to reloaded their pool of talent with players such as Tomas Jurco and Tatar, Dylan Larkin and Gustav Nyquist. Which is all fine and good but the torch hasn’t been completely passed off from Henrik Zeterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen and obviously the now dubbed ‘mystery man’ Pavel Datsyuk.
Detroit is a far cry from what they were in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Jam packed with talent and groomed for another run at Lord Stanley every single year.
2008 was the last time they were crowned champions. Pittsburg took their chances at a repeat away in 2009. Seven years have passed and a couple of first round exits, a loss to Chicago in 2013 after leading the series 3 games to 1, recently a Luongo/Lack esque goaltending situation has formulated, and the departure of beloved coach Mike Babcock have sent this team into a sustained, but gradual tailspin.
Unorthodox, that’s how I would describe this one. It doesn’t taste right, or sound correct when you say it out loud “Pavel Datsyuk is leaving Detroit”. But if I were a betting man, I’d speculate there’s a KHL deal on the table already . Now its just a waiting game, nauseating feeling for Detroit, just waiting for the phone to ring.
Regardless, if he does decide to leave don’t expect thousands to line the runway waving handkerchiefs as your plane lifts off. Never been, but I don’t expect that’s Detroit’s style.
Something tells me you’ll see the number 40 hung in the rafters of the new Joe, or whatever the hell they’re going to desecrate one of hockey’s most synonymous cathedrals as, before the number 13. Sad but true.
To quote Lance Armstrong in Dodgeball “Good luck Pavel, I’m sure this decision won’t haunt you forever”.
Audios Magic Man, the highlight reels will take a harder beating than you for this.