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 Datsyuk back this weekend. 
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Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Wings GM: Datsyuk likely to return this week


DETROIT -- It looks like Pavel Datsyuk will play for the Detroit Red Wings after all.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland indicated prior to Detroit's preseason game Monday that Datsyuk likely will rejoin the team some time in the coming week.

"I think he's coming back to Detroit, unless I get a major curveball," Holland told reporters Monday. "My expectation is that he's coming back by the weekend."

Datsyuk, 27, was involved in a contract dispute with the team during the offseason. According to published reports, the restricted free agent signed a one-year contract with Russian club Avangard Omsk on Sept. 5.

Despite reportedly turning down a $5 million offer by Detroit, Datsyuk has a clause in his Avangard contract which allows him to leave for the NHL midway through the season.

Holland admitted he has not spoken with Datsyuk since September 5 but did reveal that he has been in contact with the All-Star center's agent, Gary Greenstin.

In 75 games with the Red Wings in 2003-04, Datsyuk scored a team-high 30 goals with 38 assists.

Detroit's 1998 sixth-round pick, Datsyuk spent last season with Dynamo Moscow. He joined Detroit in 2001-02 and helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup in his rookie season.

"If he isn't the best football player, the best runner, that the Lord has ever made, then the Lord has yet to make one." Wayne Fontes on Barry.

September 20th, 2005, 3:48 pm
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Better story

Holland relieved about Datsyuk return

Canadian Press

9/20/2005 11:40:07 AM

Suddenly the Detroit Red Wings feel a whole lot better about their chances this season after getting star centre Pavel Datsyuk back into the fold.

For GM Ken Holland, it was a tortuous month of negotiations and a roller-coaster of emotions before finally plucking the silky smooth playmaker out of Russia.

"I spoke to Pavel this morning," Holland said Tuesday from Detroit. "It's all confirmed. He's coming back. We certainly feel like we've won the lottery."

Datsyuk, a restricted free agent, agreed to a two-year deal worth a little more than $3.8 million US a season. It ends a bizarre soap opera that had many twists and turns, including two clubs in Russia fighting over his rights and also offering a multi-million dollar contract.

"Until you're walking in a man's shoes, you don't know what factors into his decisions," Holland said. "In the end, looking at this in hindsight, he had a tremendous offer there. He's a great Russian player who was pursued very hard and I'm sure it was a difficult decision for him.

"But in talking to him today, he told me he was very, very happy to be coming back to Detroit."

Credit Holland for doggedly pursuing his man even when it looked nearly impossible to get him back. He stayed in daily contact with agent Gary Greenstin and never gave up. And he may have also caught a break when Russian politics entered the picture.

Datsyuk signed a contract with Avangard Omsk earlier this month, but it was then matched by Moscow Dynamo, the team that Datsyuk played with during the lockout last year. Omsk then fought for Datsyuk's rights and the matter had yet to be heard in arbitration before Datsyuk finally decided enough was enough and he was headed back to the NHL.

"I think it was Sunday, Sept. 4, when I got the news late at night that Pavel had signed with a team in Russia," Holland said. "I stayed in constant communication with his agent in Russia. Gary was upfront throughout all this.

"Early on it looked like Pavel would stay in Russia and over the course of a couple of weeks, because of circumstances over in Russia, I think it became a possibility that Pavel would return to the NHL."

Holland, who expected Datsyuk in Detroit as early as Saturday and as late as Monday, can now breathe a sign of relief - his plan worked out. He chopped down his payroll and released good players in order to make room for the two star restricted free agents he desperately needed back.

"We made a decision to buy out some players, (Darren) McCarty, (Derian) Hatcher and (Ray) Whitney, and also made a decision not to re-sign Mathieu Dandenault - who we made an offer to but could only go so far - so a big part was to free up money in the hopes of being able to re-sign Henrik (Zetterberg) and Pavel," Holland said.

"And thank goodness it's worked out because it certainly wasn't looking very promising 10 days ago."

Zetterberg signed a $10.6-million, four-year deal Sept. 7, a deal worth $2.65 million a season.

In Datsyuk, the Wings solidify their depth at centre along with Steve Yzerman, 40, Kris Draper, 34, and Robert Lang, 34. And they get a more developed Datsyuk.

"When he last played here two seasons ago, he had 30 goals and close to 70 points, and he was 24 years of age," Holland said. "Now he's two years older. He had a great year last season helping Dynamo win the Russian championship and also had a great world championship.

"He's going to face a little more attention from other teams this season but certainly he gives our team a different look."

Datsyuk, who turned 27 in July, had a breakthrough season in 2003-04, his third in the NHL. He tied for the team lead in scoring with 30 goals and 38 assists. He has 154 career points (53-101) in 209 regular-season games - all with Detroit.

"If he isn't the best football player, the best runner, that the Lord has ever made, then the Lord has yet to make one." Wayne Fontes on Barry.

September 20th, 2005, 3:51 pm
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