As the exodus of NHL players to Europe continues, many of the Detroit Red Wings players will be following suit. This is also true for the man with the magic hands, Pavel Datysuk, who has reportedly signed with CSKA Moskow of the KHL. This is a different team than Datsyuk signed with in the 2004-2005 lockout season, when he signed with Dynamo Moskow.
The move may come as strange to those who follow the KHL, as CSKA Moskow has not performed well in recent years. They have not finished above 4th (out of 7 teams) in the Bobrov division in the past three years. Additionally, they did not qualify for the playoffs two years ago and were eliminated last year in the quarterfinals. It is much more likely that Datsyuk signing with CSKA has more to do with the fact that former Red Wing and now GM Sergei Federov was able to persuade the current Red Wings assistant captain to take their side.
Had Datsyuk returned to Dynamo, it would have likely meant another solid run at first or second in the division for hailed Russian hockey club, not to mention a possible pairing with NHL superstar Alex Ovechkin. Instead we will get the chance to see the two competing with many of their Russian colleagues against one another, as we do in the NHL. The difference this time, however, is they will be speaking their mother tongue on the ice, which is one aspect to which I look forward.
Datsyuk is extremely unpredictable and amazing to watch when he cannot always communicate fully with his teammates in the NHL. There are glimpses of specific greatness when he has played in the Olympics or World Championships. It will no doubt be another great stage for the world’s greatest puck handler to demonstrate all he can do in his homeland.