In an interview broadcast on Detroit’s 97.1 The Ticket, Holland revealed details about the two sides contract negotiations in 2013, when Datsyuk signed the current 3-year contract. According to Holland, Datsyuk’s camp asked for a 5-year extension, which would have kept him under contract until 2019. The Red Wings GM countered with a 3-year term, which was accepted.
“He’s our best player. If I countered with a 1-year deal, he’s playing with another team.”
Early in the first season of this contract, 2014-15 season, Holland says he was approached by Datsyuk in his office about returning to Russia after that season for “the reasons you heard today”. Datsyuk “didn’t know the rules” about how an early retirement would affect the Red Wings, according to Holland.
The Red Wings did “everything [they] could to keep him here this year”, including a meeting with the team’s owners, Mike and Marian Ilitch. After understanding how leaving would affect the organization, Datsyuk agreed to stay for at least the 2015-16 season. Holland hoped he would stay for 2016-17 as well, but accepted that he might have to deal with him leaving before then.
Holland “doesn’t feel burned” by Datsyuk’s decision, saying “Pav was concerned about the Detroit Red Wings” and calling him “real honourable”.
“His heart isn’t here anymore.”
Because Datsyuk will likely play in the KHL next season, he wanted the Red Wings’ blessing to leave.
Holland said he’s “not overly optimistic” about moving Datsyuk’s contract, based on what the small group of teams with interest are asking for in return. The team isn’t worried about the potential cost, however. Holland compared it to buying a car or house: “if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it.”
The Red Wings won’t trade young prospects like Anthony Mantha in order to move the contract, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.com.
Whether or not they move Datsyuk’s contract, Holland said the Red Wings will look younger next year. That’s in no small part due to the inexpensive nature of entry-level contracts.
Holland’s intent would be to move the contract for a conditional draft pick before the opening of free agency July 1, saying it wouldn’t make sense to do anything after the free agent market is over.