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Datsyuk interested in playing in KHL someday

Sep 2, 2014, 3:40 PM EST

Pavel Datsyuk Getty Images

Pavel Datsyuk is about to start a three-year, $22.5 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings, so it’s reasonable to believe that the 36-year-old forward isn’t leaving the NHL in the near future. However, Datsyuk still hasn’t closed the door on playing for the KHL’s Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg before he hangs up his skates.

“It is hard to talk about it now,” Datsyuk told the Russian publication Sportbox, per the Detroit Free Press. “My dream is to play for the (KHL team) remains, but (I have to) look at how the rest of my hockey career (goes).”

That quote comes at a time when KHL president Alex Medvedev is hinting that Russian stars might depart the NHL in the not too distant future. When Sport-Express.ru asked about Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin specifically, Medvedev suggested “there might be good surprises in a year,” according to Sports.ru’s Igor Eronko.

Of course, it’s not that simple given that Ovechkin and Malkin are under contract with Washington and Pittsburgh respectively. As we discussed in April, the KHL-NHL memorandum of understanding would require that Ovechkin or Malkin to negotiate out of their NHL contracts before they could sign in the KHL. That memorandum of understanding was recently extended, although Medvedev’s quote becomes a bit more ominous when you consider that the agreement is now set to expire on June 30, 2015.

It’s also worth adding that Ovechkin has also previously shrugged off the idea that he would leave Washington.

If nothing else, it wouldn’t be shocking if some or all of them decided to finish their careers in the KHL once their playing days are winding down and their existing NHL contracts are completed. It’s something Teemu Selanne has considered doing at the age of 44 and he wouldn’t be the first one to take that route.

  1. lowenni - Sep 2, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    Nothing surprising or wrong about this. If I was a European star like Datsyuk or Selanne finishing up my career in my hometown would be something really cool and something I would want to do too. There’s nothing wrong with that–the players as human beings own the right to decide where they want to play (trades, drafts aside). It would be great for the fans in Russia too. North American hockey fans shouldn’t be so quick to bash players wanting to play in the KHL–it’s their home country. The only thing I take problem with is what Kovalchuk did, opting out of his contract and leaving his team in a hole without a return for his departure. That being said, I don’t think guys like Ovi, Malkin, or Datsyuk will leave while they still have contracts and they all appreciate the higher level of competition in the NHL. If one day they do leave, even if a little early, that is their choice and something hockey fans should learn to respect, not criticize.

  2. bsaures - Sep 2, 2014 at 3:57 PM

    I think alot more european players towards the tail end of their careers will go back. Why not they can play closer to home, make good money, have to play 30 fewer games, compete at the worlds, and play a less physical brand of hockey. This will be especially true if the expansion into europe continues

  3. jpelle82 - Sep 2, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    just cements the fact that the khl will never be or compete with the nhl…if a guy is too old and has to retire from the nhl…but turns around and plays in the khl for another couple years, what does that really say about the khl? good deal for the players, bad for the khl…guys will still want to come to the nhl to prove themselves and then turn to the khl to ease into retired life. quality of hockey will never be as good, but they will always be able to sell tickets.

  4. pjblake2redwings - Sep 2, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    they should all talk to Jagr.. there is a reason he came back to the NHL to play with the best players in the WORLD, not just russia.. once they are on the decline I can see all of them playing a season or 2 back home before calling it quits but you have to know players like Ovi, Pav, and Geno are viewed like Lebron James is in the US so who wouldnt hate that

  5. tmarchione - Sep 2, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    I can see Datsyuk leaving after this contract ends to play at home. He said he wanted to play at home when his time was done in the NHL even before he signed this last contract, so that wouldn’t be a surprise. He also has some strong ties to the Detroit area (businesses, charity work, etc), so I suspect if this is his last contract, he’ll start working those out during the next 3 years to allow him to go back home.

  6. hauger88 - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM

    Well said lowenni

  7. mackattack29 - Sep 3, 2014 at 12:59 AM

    Good for him but it still makes me kinda sad. It’s hard not to have some animosity for the KHL after the whole kovalchuck and radulov and burmistrov business and many others… just don’t like the way they poach players.

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