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Pavel Datsyuk announces plans to retire

Pavel Datsyuk

After 14 years in the National Hockey League, Pavel Datsyuk, the Detroit Red Wings’ Russian forward known as “The Magic Man,” has announced that he will be leaving the NHL following the playoffs. Datsyuk, who spent his entire NHL career with the Red Wings, cited family and health issues as the motivating factors for his North American retirement.

“I’m thinking I go home after this season,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “I may not be done with hockey, but — it is hard to say — I think I am done playing in NHL.”

According to a lengthy interview with the Free Press, Datsyuk, who turns 38 this summer, wants to return to Russia to reunite with his family, including his teenage daughter. In fact, he almost left after the previous season but was convinced to stay due to the money he would receive and persuasion from Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland.

Datsyuk made the announcement only after the Red Wings’ regular season had come to a close, stating that he did not wish to distract from his team’s quest for a playoff bid. After the Wings qualified on Saturday, April 9, Datsyuk went ahead with the announcement. “Because of the rumors out there, I wanted to clear this up now before the playoffs started so I can focus only on giving my best playoff performance,” he said. “And I wanted the fans to hear it from me, not someone else.”

Part of the motivation for stepping away from professional hockey also stems from a severe health issue Datsyuk faced last summer. After suffering from chronic soreness in his right ankle, he went to meet with Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina for what was supposed to be a 45 minute procedure. After four hours, Datsyuk learned that both of his “tendons were completely gone, destroyed; they had to use cadaver [replacements].”

According to Datsyuk’s agent, Dan Milstein, Dr. Anderson had said that he did not believe any athlete could receive this treatment and go back to playing a professional level. “But Pavel did this,” said Milstein. “If it were me, I would have retired on the spot.”

During his time in the NHL, Datsyuk has won two Stanley Cups—one in 2002 and the other in 2008. He also won the Frank J. Selke as the league’s top defensive forward on three occasions, as well as four consecutive Lady Byng Memorial Trophies, from 2006 to 2009, for sportsmanship. He was also a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player for the 2008-2009 season.

In 887 games in the NHL, Datsyuk had 869 points via 298 goals and 571 assists. He remains one of the league’s most famous and skilled stickhandlers.

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