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Datsyuk, Wings agree on 3-year extension

Deal means Russian star will remain in Detroit through the 2016-17 season

Tuesday, 06.18.2013 / 1:24 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Datsyuk, Wings agree on 3-year extension
Center Pavel Datsyuk, who has led the Red Wings in points in seven of the last nine seasons, was atop Detroit's points list again during the 2013 campaign. The Russian star finished with 15 goals and 34 assists. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – The Red Wings got the best off-season news that they could get Tuesday when Pavel Datsyuk and his agent walked into Ken Holland’s office and agreed to terms on a new three-year contract extension that will keep the Russian star in Detroit through the 2016-17 season.

“Based on a couple of brief conversations that I had with Gary Greenstin over the last couple of months, I felt that there was an interest in Pav to stay,” Holland said. “I had my exit interview last week with Pav and we talked a little bit. He called his agent and in the next few days we were able to get the extension done.”

The news comes as a relief to the Red Wings and their fans, especially after rumors circulated throughout the lockout-shortened season that Datsyuk was planning to leave the NHL for the Kontinental Hockey League after his current contract in Detroit expired. Speculation only intensified during the playoffs when a Russian newspaper reported that a KHL club had made a lucrative offer to Datsyuk.

“I know where the rumors are coming from. Maybe he doesn’t like me coming here,” said Datsyuk, as he shopped in the Red Wings merchandise warehouse for gifts to take to family and friends in Russia. “I would be happy to play back home, but I know it’s better for me to stay here for my professional career.

“I am happy to be staying with a good family where I have had lots of fun and feel comfortable.”

Part of his decision to stay in Detroit – where he has played ever since he was selected in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL draft – was to return to the core group of players with Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard.

“This is big part, and I’m happy to stay with a good group,” said Datsyuk, who later this week will return to Russia, where for the sixth straight summer he will help run a youth hockey camp. “I see lots of optimism. If you don’t see optimism, maybe you die.”

For Holland, reaching an agreement with Datsyuk before the free agency period, which starts July 5, was just as exhilarating.

“It was important to get Pav done before he went back home for the summer,” Holland said. “When you’re heading into July 5 and not sure if Pav is going to be here in a year it can affect your thinking. Now we know for a lot of reasons, from a salary cap commitment, from a player commitment, we know the core of our team moving forward. It’s Pav and Z and Kronwall and Jimmy Howard.”

A four-time NHL All-Star, Datsyuk is widely considered the game’s best two-way player in the world. A phenomenal stick-handler with incredible defensive instincts, he often makes opposing goaltenders look foolish with his magician-like highlight reel goals. During his 11 season career, Datsyuk has won the Selke Trophy, as the league’s best defensive forward, three times (2008-10), and the Lady Byng Trophy, for sportsmanship, four times (2006-09).

Datsyuk, who will turn 35 on July 20, already ranks among the Red Wings’ regular-season and playoff greats. He’s sixth in regular-season points (767) and sixth in assists (512), while he’s equally productive in the postseason, ranking sixth in assists (67), seventh in points (103), and 10th in goals (36).

“He’s a world class player,” Holland said. “With Pav winning the Selkes and seeming to be in the voting every year, he’s probably the best two-way forward in the world. He’s committed to fitness, he trains really hard, he’s mentally tough, he competes. He has a lot of hockey left in him and it probably wouldn’t surprise me if he’s doing an extension with the Detroit Red Wings when this contract is over.”

Plenty of forwards have had productive NHL years into their 40s, including such former Red Wings’ notables as Gordie Howe (51), Igor Larionov (43) and Alex Delvecchio (41). All three Hockey Hall of Famers produced more than 40 points in each of their final full seasons.

Datsyuk will be 38-years-old when his contract extension ends in 2017, but he said he’ll play as long as he remains healthy and can still contribute.

“If you recognize that those guys played a longtime ago and the game has changed,” he said. “Now you see (Teemu) Selanne, you see (Jaromir) Jagr. They all play and they play big roles on the team. This is the example.

“I don’t look at age. If you can keep up your level of play, why not play?”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 52 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 53 9 27 3 36
T. Tatar 52 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 53 14 15 -2 29
P. Datsyuk 38 8 20 12 28
J. Abdelkader 53 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 39 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 49 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 20 10 4 .933 1.97
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89