By Allan Muir
Maybe if CSKA Moscow general manager Sergei Fedorov had been a bit more persuasive, Ilya Kovalchuk would have had some superstar-caliber company in the KHL.
According to a report in today's RiaNovosti, Fedorov had a sit-down meeting with Pavel Datsyuk, hoping to convince the star forward to bolt the NHL and return home to Russia at the end of his current contract.
"Unfortunately for us, Pavel extended his contract with Detroit," Fedorov told the website. "I had a meeting with him a few days before the signing. We had the chance to get Pavel in a year's time, but as a person who knows what the NHL is all about, I understand perfectly well why he did what he did," Fedorov said.
"He said: 'I want to grow as a player and I think that for me the best option is to stay in the NHL.'"
Datsyuk ended up signing a three-year, $22.5 million extension with Detroit last month that will keep him wearing the winged wheel through the 2016-17 season.
Earlier this week, Datsyuk had dismissed talk of the KHL option in an interview with Dmitry Chesnokov. "To be honest with you, I didn’t even listen to them," he said of the rumors. "Rumors and rumors. There are always more than enough of them."
Datsyuk will be 38 by the time his extension expires. It's a good bet the Red Wings will be willing to move on at that point...and that Fedorov will be waiting.