We continue to sit and wait for the CBA to be officially ratified by the NHLPA, followed by the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, but some news out of Russia could be a little disconcerting to Red Wing fans.
"I’d be delighted to stay here in Russia and play the season to the end. There’s just enormous desire," he said at the All-Star weekend. "But unfortunately, our desires don’t always match our abilities," he added, referring to his NHL contract obligations.
Ruh roh. Could we see another example of a homesick player pining to play closer to his family a la Brad Stuart the last 2 years?
Datsyuk isn't the only Russian player to voice reservations about returning to the NHL now that the lockout is over. Ilya Kovalchuk hasn't exactly been bursting at the seams with joy about coming back to play for the Devils, and there was talk that several Russian superstars (including Datsyuk, Kovalchuk and Evgeni Malkin) were offered big money to remain in Russia.
Is there a cause for concern? My gut tells me no.
It's no secret that Datsyuk's wife and family have remained in Russia during his NHL career, and as someone with a wife and kids I can only imagine how nice it has been to be closer to them these last few months. Couple that with the end of his career being on the horizon and the fact that he's got little else to prove in the NHL and I can understand why he's starting to pine for a chance to be with his family.
However, nothing we've ever seen from Datsyuk makes me believe that he would give less than his full effort in anything associated with the Red Wings, whether that be practice or games. I know the stereotype of the lazy, enigmatic Russia exists among a certain section of the hockey community, but Datsyuk has never had that reputation and I don't believe that he's all of a sudden going to become a negative influence.
Ultimately I believe this is going to be a non-issue. Datsyuk has already said that he will be returning to Detroit, and it's absolutely normal for someone who is going to travel extensively away from his family to be a little down about that. If anything, this makes me a little sad because it's a sign that we might only have a couple of years left of Datsyuk in a Wing uniform. Then I realize that labor stoppages cost us a year and a half of his career, and the anger just comes pouring back.