Pavel Datsyuk had said before the post-season that the 2015-16 season would be the last of his NHL career, but be it the urgings of fans in Detroit, the Red Wings’ front office or his own doubt about whether or not he wants to leave the NHL behind, Datsyuk said he’ll need more time to decide his future.
Datsyuk, 37, told media during the Red Wings’ breakup day that the short playoff run didn’t give him enough time to really think about his choice to retire, and he gave Red Wings fans the slightest glimmer of hope by saying he would take until after the World Championship to decide whether to hang up his skates or not.
“They’ve already asked me before if I made a decision,” Datsyuk said. “I said it’s not enough time now. I don’t want to rush. It’s a really tough decision for me, and I need more time. I’ll go back and play in the World Championship and think about it more. In June, I’ll meet again with Ken Holland and make a final decision.”
Datsyuk added that even though the World Championship will be played in Russia — where it’s a near certainty he will play next season if he leaves the NHL — he would have preferred the Red Wings’ playoff run didn’t end so soon.
The Red Wings have made it clear they would love to have Datsyuk back, and it’s evident why. Even though he played only 66 games this season after battling through lingering off-season injuries, Datsyuk scored 16 goals and 49 points and finished second on the Red Wings in scoring. His .74 points per game were the best of any player in Detroit, and was still logging nearly 20 minutes per game for the Red Wings. Filling the hole left by Datsyuk will be next to impossible in free agency.
However, no matter how bad he wants Datsyuk back, Holland seems resigned to the fact that this could very well be it for the Russian star.
"Given my past conversations with (Pavel) and (agent) Dan Milstein...I guess I would expect news that he's not coming back,” Holland told media, per the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James.
If Datsyuk does decide to retire, he would walk away from the final year of his three-year, $22.5-million contract that he signed in June 2013, but that would be the final season of a deal that backslid over the three-year span. The first season of the contract paid Datsyuk $10 million, he earned $7 million during the current campaign and would be set to earn $5.5 million next season. Datsyuk’s contract was a 35-plus deal, though, so even if he retires the Red Wings will be stuck with the full $7.5 million cap hit.