Could Datsyuk return? Rumors persist despite agent’s denial
Although playing in Russia, Pavel Datsyuk becomes an NHL free agent next July 1.
Could Pavel Datsyuk wear a Red Wings uniform once again?
According to TSN’s Bob Mackenzie, there has been talk that Datsyuk, in his third season in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League with St. Petersburg SKA, is interested in returning to the NHL.
He left the league following the 2015-16 season after 14 seasons with Detroit.
But Datsyuk’s agent, Dan Millstein, says there has been no discussion about Datsyuk coming back to the NHL.
“Every year we sit down and talk about options, but (returning to the) NHL isn’t something he has entertained,” Millstein said on www.tsn.ca.
Datsyuk’s NHL rights are currently owned by the Arizona Coyotes, but this is the last season of the contract he originally signed with the Red Wings. He will become a free agent on July 1, 2019.
The 40-year-old has seven goals and 28 points in 32 games in the KHL this season.
He helped Detroit win two Stanley Cups and had 314 goals and 604 assists for 918 points. That makes him one of only six Red Wings in franchise history with at least 300 goals and 900 points. The others are Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio, Sergei Fedorov and Henrik Zetterberg.
He also won four Lady Byng Trophies as the NHL’s most gentlemanly player and three Frank J. Selke Trophies as the league’s best defensive forward, and he led the NHL in plus-minus once.
Wings dress emergency backup
Jimmy Howard was scheduled to start Detroit’s 3-2 road loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night but was a late scratch because of back spasms during pregame warm-ups.
That meant Jonathan Bernier got the start. But with no backup goaltender from their organization available, the Red Wings dressed the emergency backup provided by the Flyers, 34-year-old geologist Justin Kowalkowski, who plays beer-league hockey after playing at Colgate from 2004-08.
Each NHL team is required to have an emergency backup goalie available for each home game, in case of the above type of situation.
Howard is expected to be healthy enough to serve as the backup when Detroit visits the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
Tuesday night’s loss was Detroit’s fourth straight (0-3-1).
“We had tons of guys with their ‘B’ and ‘C’ games,” coach Jeff Blashill told the Detroit Free Press. “Not even close to enough guys with their ‘A’ games. I’ve said it to our guys before: When you are a little bit short-handed, guys have to rise to the occasion and play their ‘A’ games on a nightly basis, and I didn’t think it was close”
The Red Wings are without forwards Darren Helm and Anthony Mantha and defensemen Mike Green and Danny DeKeyser due to long-term injuries.
“Whether it was just how they handled the puck, poor turnovers, or the way they executed turnovers, slow in D zone – as a group we were way too slow in D zone, so as a group we have to work on that,” Blashill continued. “We’re going to get way better at that, but as an individual, to rise up and play way better than they played.”
Larkin stays hot
Dylan Larkin had an assist in the loss to the Flyers to run his point streak to eight games.
Larkin has four goals and seven assists for 11 points in that run and leads Detroit in goals (14) and points (33) in 35 games.