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Detroit Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk to leave NHL after playoffs

By
The Sports Xchange
Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings. UPI/David Becker
Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings. UPI/David Becker | License Photo

Detroit Red Wings star center Pavel Datsyuk plans to retire from NHL after the Stanley Cup playoffs and return to his native Russia.

Datsyuk, who is in his 14th season, all with the Red Wings, told the Detroit Free Press his heart is in Russia with his teenage daughter and his roots.

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Datsyuk will walk away from $7.5 million, forgoing the final season of his three-year, $22.5 million contract because of family reasons.

"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."

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Datsyuk, 37, has a 13-year-old daughter who lives with his ex-wife in Russia.

"It's not an easy decision," Datsyuk said. "It did not happen yesterday. I talk with my daughter all the time. I see how she misses me, how she misses my advice. ... I want to come back and be closer."

The Red Wings clinched a playoff berth for the 25th consecutive season on Saturday and will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference's first round.

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Datsyuk said he wanted to make the announcement now to avoid distractions during the postseason.

"Because of the rumors out there I wanted to clear this up now before the playoffs started so I can focus only on giving my best playoff performance," Datsyuk said. "And I wanted the fans to hear it from me, not someone else.

"I feel very bad about it. Looking back, I wish I had done a year-by-year contract, not a three-year contract. I stayed (last year) in respect for (owners Mike and Marian Ilitch). I don't want to leave the team in disaster. But if I have to do over again I would sign a different deal. I didn't realize it at the time."

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The Red Wings will be responsible for the $7.5 million NHL salary-cap charge for 2016-17 because Datsyuk's current contract went into effect after he turned 35.

"He feels extremely bad," Dan Milstein, Datsyuk's agent, told ESPN.com regarding 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."

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Datsyuk, who missed the first 15 games of the 2015-16 season, finished second on the Red Wings with 49 points (16 goals, 33 assists). He has 314 goals and 918 points in 953 NHL games and was part of Stanley Cup championships in 2002 and 2008.

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