You’d be surprised what putting up one post on a Russian Hockey star can do. It can reignite my passion for why I started this blog in the first place. To honor and recognize one of the greatest two-way players in the game.
Павел Дацюк (Pavel Datsyuk) is that kind of special talent that comes around rarely. Sure. There are other versions like Selke Trophy beast Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar and to a lesser extent Sidney Crosby. However, Datsyuk took it to another level due to his unique combination of supreme skating with high skill that included dangles, toe drags, dekes, takeaways with elite finishing and playmaking.
Here’s a great video tribute to the man I refer to as Datsyukian. I use that name because Datsyuk does things at such a high level that I can’t think of anyone who’s in the same stratosphere. Had he produced more points for the Red Wings, he would’ve won a Hart Trophy. He was only nominated once finishing a distant third in ’08-09 behind countrymen Evgeni Malkin and Hart winner Alex Ovechkin.
A four-time Lady Byng winner for the league’s most gentlemanly player over a brilliant 14-year NHL career all spent in Hockey Town USA, Datsyuk won his three Selke Trophies for the league’s top defensive forward in three straight years (ages 29-31) from ’07-08 thru ’09-10.
Not only was the great two-way center dominant in all three zones with his uncanny ability to cleanly sneak from behind, lift sticks and steal the puck, but he was money on face-offs. When they started recording face-off percentage, it’s no surprise that Datsyuk went 54.8 percent from ’07-08 to his last NHL season in ’15-16.
In 953 career games all spent with the Red Wings after they stole him in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL Draft at number 171, Datsyuk registered 314 goals with 604 assists for a total of 918 points and a plus-249 rating. A two-time Stanley Cup champion in ’01-02 and ’07-08, he was so much more than only statistics. All you had to do was watch a shift by number 13 rocking the Winged Wheel to understand what a complete player he was.
I might not be the biggest Corsica possession enthusiast. But from the time they started recording that stat, Datsyuk was a puck possession beast averaging a ridiculous 59.0 CF. While it’s true he had more zone starts in the offensive zone, he was as defensively reliable as it got. You knew he could be counted on for big draws and key defensive plays to get the puck out quickly and transition to offense. Nobody was quite like him.
If you watch the video above, skip ahead to 4:16 for a laugh. Datsyuk faked out two players so badly, they collided. The puck stuck to his stick like a magnet. He was poetry in motion.
When they won the Cup over the Pens in 2008, Datsyuk went 10-13-23 with a plus-13 rating. He won 54.5 percent of face-offs and had 27 takeaways. In 16 postseason games the following year, an injury limited him to a goal and eight assists. Had he not missed time versus Pittsburgh, Detroit repeats. He took part in three games and tallied two assists.
At the age of 42, Datsyuk is still playing back home in Russia for Yekaterinburg Automobilist of the KHL. After spending his first three years with St. Petersburg SKA, he’s played for Yekaterinburg Automobilist this year and last year. So far, he’s having a bounce back season with 20 points (5-15-20) in 18 games. His 15 apples pace the team. He’s second in scoring behind Alexei Makeyev (15-11-26). Datsyuk has played four fewer games.
As long as he keeps playing at a high level, hopefully he’ll stick around. He’s a future Hall of Famer.
Очень спасибо, Павел!