Pavel Datsyuk announced on Saturday that he will be leaving the National Hockey League to return home to play in Russia next season.
The 38-year-old Datsyuk, who was entering the final year of his three-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings said during a press conference, “This was not an easy decision, but it is the right time for us to return home.”
The NHL salary cap charge associate with Datsyuk’s contract, of 7.5 million-dollars will count towards the Red Wings salary cap for the 2016-2017 season. His agent, Dan Milstein said that Datsyuk did not take the two-million-dollar bonus that he was owed in February. That bonus however, has no bearing on the cap hit for the organization.
Datsyuk added, “I [might] make it [difficult] on my team, a tough situation, but [I] believe in our management. They are the best in the NHL. They will make this happen.”
Datsyuk came to his decision during a recent vacation with his family, after he helped lead Russia to a bronze medal at the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships.
He said, “I went on vacation with my family, just relaxed and made [my] final decision. I Made sure I am fresh in my mind, and not just emotional. It is important, because it is very important for my hockey career. This is why I just [had to] go away.”
Datsyuk said that no one with the Red Wings tried to influence his decision. He said, “Everyone gave his opinion, but they said it is your decision. What you do, we support you.”
Red Wings general manager, Ken Holland, was set to discuss the Datsyuk situation later on Saturday. The two of them met with each other earlier on Friday.
Datsyuk had been thinking of leaving the NHL for a number seasons but found it tough to leave Detroit. In April, he felt that his time in the NHL was likely over, as he had a desire to be closer to his 13-year-old daughter, who still lives in Russia.
Back in April he had said, “I am thinking I will go home after this season, I may not be done with hockey, but it is hard to say. I think I am done in the NHL.”
After the Red Wings were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he had said that he needed a little more time to make his decision and think about his future.
Milstein said that Datsyuk had been offered a contract with St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League in May, and on Saturday added that he has received multiple offers from other KHL teams as well. Milstein said he would discuss those offers with Datsyuk soon.
This past season, Datsyuk scored 49 points (13 goals and 33 assists) in 66 games for Detroit. He became the fourth Red Wings player to score 300 goals and 600 assists, joining Hall of Famers, Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman and Alex Delvecchio.
He helped the Red Wings reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a 25th straight season in 2015-2016 as well. The Lightning however kept him off the scoresheet during their opening round matchup.
Drafted in the sixth round, with the 171st pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Datsyuk spent 14 seasons with the Red Wings where he was able to score 918 points (314 G 604 A) in 953 career NHL regular season games. In 157 career playoff games he was able to record 42 goals and 71 assists for 113 points.
The four-time Lady Byng Trophy winner (2006-2009), led the Red Wings to Stanley Cup victories in 2002 and 2008, as well as runners up in 2009. The three time NHL All-Star, won the Selke Trophy for best defensive forward three times (2008-2010).
Datsyuk represented Russia at the last four Olympic Games, helping lead his country to the bronze medal in 2002. He will also represent Russia at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey this fall at the Air Canada Center in Toronto.