Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk announced on Saturday what many had expected since late March: He will forego the final year of his NHL contract and return to his native Russia.
“My family and I have decided that it’s time to return home,” he explained at a press conference at St. Mary’s Athletic Conference, where he is hosting a youth hockey clinic.
Datsyuk, 37, played 14 seasons with the Red Wings, scoring 314 goals and adding 604 assists for 918 points.
Drafted in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, he broke in with the Wings during the 2001-02 season, cracking a lineup laden with Hall of Famers and helping Detroit to its tenth Stanley Cup Championship. He would later help the team to one more Cup in 2008.
Datsyuk produced countless highlight reel goals while also playing a shutdown role defensively. He was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy for three consecutive seasons (2007, 2008, 2009) as the league’s best defensive forward.
By retiring from the NHL with one season left on the three-year deal he signed in 2014, the Red Wings will be saddled with a $7.5 million salary cap hit. As the deal was an “over 35” contract, it doesn’t come off the books with his departure. It is yet to be seen if the team will try to trade the cap hit to a team looking to get up to the salary floor.