Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk plans to retire from NHL after playoffs

ByCraig Custance ESPN logo
Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Red Wings clinched a playoff spot on the final day of their regular-season schedule, and it may be the final postseason trip of Pavel Datsyuk's illustrious NHL career.

Datsyuk, 37, said he plans to retire from the NHL and go back to Russia after this season, his agent Dan Milstein confirmed to

Datsyuk initially announced his decision to retire to the Detroit Free Press, who reported it earlier Sunday.

"I'm thinking I go home after this season," the Red Wings center told the Free Press. "I may not be done with hockey, but -- it is hard to say -- I think I am done playing in the NHL."

This is Datsyuk's 14th season, all with the Red Wings.

A source with the Red Wings confirmed with that Datsyuk's retirement was a possibility the team anticipated, but the Red Wings still hope to convince him to stay one more year. The Red Wings are also open to a contract extension; if he opts to leave, the Red Wings will explore all options to remove his contract from the books.

Milstein confirmed that there are plans to talk with the Red Wings at season's end and wouldn't completely rule out a change in heart.

"He's going to have a meeting with [Red Wings GM Ken] Holland and [owners] Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch at the conclusion of the season ... certainly he has tremendous respect for the Ilitches and their organization," Milstein said. "It's not over until it's over. This chapter is not closed right now."

Datsyuk wants to return to Russia to be with his teenage daughter and hasn't ruled out playing in the KHL next season.

"He feels he overstayed," Milstein said. "He wants to unite his family. It's very difficult for him over the years not to see his daughter often."

If Datsyuk follows through, it's damaging on a number of fronts for the Red Wings. For one, Datsyuk remains one of their better players. But there's also a financial aspect.

Datsyuk has one year remaining on his contract that comes with a salary-cap charge of $7.5 million. Because it was signed after he was 35, the Red Wings will be stuck with that cap hit next season if Datsyuk is in Russia.

"He feels extremely bad," Milstein said about the possible cap charge. "He's asked me to basically let the team know that he's willing to do anything. This is extremely personal to him. He would do whatever is necessary to accommodate the Red Wings, to help in any way possible."