DETROIT >> If Pavel Datsyuk had it all to do over again he probably would have thought twice when he signed a three-year extension to stay in Detroit after the 2013 playoffs.
Datsyuk, who turns 38 on July 20, has one year remaining on that deal and could leave without fulfilling that according to his agent Dan Milstein, who spoke with me Sunday afternoon.
“Certainly since 2012, the lockout shortened year, he’s been thinking about going back to Russia,” Milstein said. “His daughter is getting older and just being away from her is tough. He’s a great dad. He spends so much time with his kids. It breaks my heart. He only gets to get see her in the summers. He’s been fortunate here in Detroit to be in the playoffs every single year, but as a result he only has two months or so at home.”
Datsyuk’s daughter, Elizabeth, is 13 years old and lives in Russia with his ex-wife, Svetlana.
“But never say never,” Milstein said. “They have to get together at the end of the year like normal. Sit down with Ken Holland and ownership of the team as well and there will be a discussion. While Pavel made his wishes public there still has to be a conversation with the team as well.”
If Datsyuk does decide not to fulfill the final year of his deal the Wings won’t get any relief for his $7.5 million salary, unless they’re able to unload his contract to a team that needs to reach the salary-cap floor.
“He feels very badly about that,” Milstein said. “Had he known about this earlier he probably would have done a little bit different contracts, but never the less we’re here. They had this conversation last summer as well.
“Both Pavel and I would work with the Red Wings to do whatever is necessary to address the salary cap situation in any way possible,” Milstein added. “He feels bad. He feels the team has been loyal to him.”
Wings general manager Ken Holland said he won’t comment on Datsyuk until after the playoffs.
A report last Saturday from Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman said that Datsyuk won’t fulfill the final year of his contract next season and that he’ll instead play next season in Russia for family reasons.
Milstein said Datsyuk would not confirm the rumors because he didn’t want it to become a distraction as the Wings fought to reach the playoffs for a 25th consecutive season, which they locked up in their final game despite losing to the New York Rangers.
“He didn’t want to have any distractions whatsoever, but unfortunately the rumor started floating about a week ago,” Milstein said. “He didn’t want any distractions for his teammates at such difficult times so that’s one of the reasons he came out now instead of earlier.
“He wanted to get it off his chest so he can concentrate on doing what he does best which is play the game and continue working towards another Stanley Cup for the city of Detroit and his team,” Milstein continued.
Datsyuk had 16 goals and 33 assists in 66 games this season.
“Now he can concentrate on his game and on another playoff run,” Milstein said. “This is me, this is not him, but hopefully this is something that will energize the team so they can go and have a great Stanley Cup run. Pavel always plays at the highest level, but this will hopefully give him a little extra motivation. But this was what he needed to do. It was time.”