PLYMOUTH — The Wings got a familiar face back at training camp Tuesday morning, Pavel Datsyuk.
“(It’s) awesome,” Datsyuk said after practicing with teammates at Compuware Arena for the first time this season. “(Being) home is always good. I’m sorry I’m a little bit late.”
Datsyuk arrived in Detroit Monday night after playing in the KHL All-Star game, thus missing the first two days of camp and physicals.
He did so with the Wings’ permission according to his agent.
“It’s hard when you make commitments all over,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “When you start there and you think you’re going to be there a little bit and suddenly you become part of the community and part of the program and that’s your homeland, I didn’t have any problem.”
“It’s been a long time (since I’ve played) in Russia,” said Datsyuk, who last played in his homeland during the 2004-05 lockout that cancelled the entire NHL season. “(I’ve got) lot of Russian friends. (I’m) always welcomes home, nice, positive. You never know the next time (you’ll) play in front of Russian fans.”
Datsyuk did not take part in the Wings’ scrimmage, but is expected to Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.
Babcock said Datsyuk will be reunited with long-time linemate Henrik Zetterberg this season and have rookie Damien Brunner on a wing.
“Those two guys like playing together are they’re very good together,” Babcock said. “We just didn’t feel last year it was good for us. Last year I put them together at the start but between them and (Danny Cleary) they were never going at the start, so we had to change and we never went back.”
Datsyuk said he didn’t know much about Brunner.
“I can tell you the guys are thrilled to have him, the coaches are thrilled to have him and the people of Detroit will be thrilled to have him back,” Babcock said. “He’s a superstar who’s an unbelievable person and a great team leader.”
Datsyuk will enter the final year of his contract next season and hinted he may like to finish his career in Russia.
“It’s my kind of a dream to come back and enjoy it,” Datsyuk said. “Russian fans pull for me. You never know how (your) career (will) go.”