Ted Kulfan at the Detroit News put up an interesting article today about the plans of Detroit's best forward, Pavel Datsyuk.
Detroit — Pavel Datsyuk will be returning to the Red Wings, but not before playing in the Kontinental Hockey League all-star game.
Datsyuk's agent Gary Greenstin said Wednesday that Datsyuk will play in the Jan. 13 event in Chelyabinsk, Russia, which is roughly two hours from Datsyuk's hometown.
The 13th is expected to be the day that NHL training camps open after the NHLPA ratifies the recently agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement. The NHL announced today that a unanimous Board of Governors vote ratified the agreement from the NHL's side just hours ago.
With Datsyuk playing in the KHL's All-Star Game, he's likely not going to make it back to Detroit to start camp. While there are quite a few legal challenges which have been hinted at lately regarding Russian stars staying in Europe this year, Kulfan says that Datsyuk's agent Barry Greenstin has promised Pavel will be returning as soon as he can after the game and has GM Ken Holland's blessings for this plan. Holland has yet to confirm this.
I don't have a reason to disbelieve this report. Chelyabinsk is close to Datsyuk's hometown of Yekaterinburg and Pavel has expressed a desire to play the exhibition event in front of a hometown crowd.
I also don't have a reason to have a problem with this from any end. Datsyuk wouldn't have spent a single day in the KHL this season if it weren't for the lockout and now that he's been there half a season, I don't see a problem in allowing him to at least say goodbye to KHL fans who have been supporting him this year. Let's face it, Datsyuk doesn't need much time in training camp, as his time with CSKA Moscow already has him in midseason form.
A little goodwill by Holland towards his wayward and wistful star would go a long way. While the threat of injury during the game looms, that's a risk I would accept if I had a say in either side of this discussion.
Letting Datsyuk play the KHL All-Star Game before returning to the Red Wings is the right thing to do. I'm happy to hear that's what's likely to happen.