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Datsyuk looks ahead to season, Olympics

Russian superstar is glad to have three-year contract extension

Thursday, 09.5.2013 / 3:26 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Datsyuk looks ahead to season, Olympics

Pavel Datsyuk skated with the Red Wings for the first time since he signed a three-year contract extension last June. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – For the first time since signing a three-year extension in the off-season – that will keep him under contract with the Red Wings through 2016-17 – center Pavel Datsyuk was back on the ice at Joe Louis Arena.

Datsyuk returned to Detroit on Wednesday and participated in the team’s informal practice with the majority of his Red Wings’ teammates on Thursday.

“Obviously, I go back home and stay with friends and family a lot. Now come back to work here,” Datsyuk said. “The summer is too short, but now it’s forgotten about. Lots of work. The beginning.”

A few months ago, there was real concern that Datsyuk wasn’t long for the Red Wings, or the NHL, for that matter. Rumors circulated last season that the Russian superstar had contemplated a return to Russia once his contract was to expire after the upcoming season.

A Russian newspaper even reported that Datsyuk had an offer from a team in the KHL. But in June, when he agreed to terms with the Red Wings, Datsyuk told DetroitRedWings.com, “I know where the rumors are coming from. Maybe he doesn’t like me coming here. … I would be happy to play back home, but I know it’s better for me to stay here for my professional career.”

On Thursday, Datsyuk said he was excited for the upcoming season, mainly for the buzz that surrounds the team, which added two new pieces to the roster in the off-season.

“It’s a new team,” he said, “and we’re looking forward.”

With the acquisition of winger Daniel Alfredsson and center Stephen Weiss, coach Mike Babcock said this week that the Wings will begin the season with Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together on the top forward line. But Zetterberg is taking a wait-and-see approach.

“We’ll see how long it lasts this year, but we’re real excited that we’ll get a chance from the start again,” the Wings’ captain said. “It’s a little bit up to us, too. We have to play good. If we don't do that we're probably going to be split up. We're looking forward to it. I think the forward situation is a little different this year. We have a little more depth.”

The Red Wings will go to training camp in Traverse City on Tuesday with 16 forwards, and that doesn’t include veteran Daniel Cleary. According to a local newspaper report, the Wings are interested in the unrestricted free agent, who has played eight seasons in Detroit. But the Wings would need to clear salary cap and make some personnel moves in order to make room for him.

Aside from moving East, this season is setting up to be an exciting one for the Wings with their involvement in the 2014 Winter Classic on New Year’s Day and the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Datsyuk is especially thrilled for the Olympics in his homeland, where the Russian team will be expected to win gold.

“Much pressure on the home team,” Datsyuk said.

Something Datsyuk didn’t want to talk about Thursday was a report that his Russian apartment was burglarized with $45,000 worth of personal belongings stolen last month.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “(Keep to) sports news.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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