No team in the four American professional sports has made the playoffs more consecutive years actively than the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL. However, their chances of doing so again in the 2016-17 season took a bit hit recently with the news that star Pavel Datsyuk will not play with the club but instead return to his native Russia and play there. The Wings are now +4000 on sportsbook odds to win the Stanley Cup.
How Does the at the Red Wings 2016-17 Stanley Cup Odds Take Hit With Datsyuk Decision?
Losing Datsyuk, a likely future Hall of Famer, hurts enough. But not only that, Datsyuk’s $7.5 million salary counts against Detroit’s salary cap for next season. Under the rules of the current CBA, because Datsyuk signed his current three-year contract after turning 35 the Red Wings will remain on the hook for that salary cap hit even though he has retired from the NHL. The only way they can get out from that is if they find a team that is willing to trade for the contract.
“I’ve talked to some teams over the last couple of days,” general manager Ken Holland said. “We’ll see if I can move the contract. I’m not overly optimistic. Teams are looking for lots of future assets.”
Datsyuk has wanted to go home for two years. He has been vocal about wanting to finish his hockey career playing before Russian fans, especially after playing there while the NHL was in a labor dispute in the fall of 2012. He plans to reunite with his teenage daughter and continue his career in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League. Datsyuk said he almost returned to Russia for good while playing there during the NHL lockout during the 2012-13 season.
“When I came back from lockout, my mind is thinking, I want to go home,” Datsyuk said. “But also I want to keep playing here. I go with my mind and [was] OK with another three years, but then it got harder and harder.”
The issue is why he signed a three-year extension in 2013 knowing the club would be saddled with his cap hit if he departed sooner. If the Red Wings are saddled with that much dead money, they won’t be active in the free-agent market on July 1, leaving trades as their only real option for significant changes.
“I (put) my team in a tough situation,” Datsyuk said. “When I come back after lockout year (2013), my mind is kind of ‘I want to go home, I want to go home.’ This time also I want to keep playing here. I just can’t (make up) my mind. I (think) I will be OK with another three years, but as it goes farther and farther, it make it harder and harder. Now I just think it’s not fair and (I’m) heading back home.”
Holland said he doesn’t believe Pavel Datsyuk fully comprehended the rule. He believes there was miscommunication between Datsyuk and his former agent, Gary Greenstin.
The Wings were able to persuade him to play through 2015-16, and now are stuck with a headache. Datsyuk helped the Red Wings to two Stanley Cup titles, in 2002 and 2008. In 953 career games, he had 314 goals and 604 assists. Accolades include three Selke trophies (as the league’s best defensive forward), four Lady Byng trophies (sportsmanlike conduct), and four selections to the NHL All-Star Game.
Detroit opens the 2016-17 season on Oct. 13 against Tampa Bay.