When Pavel Datsyuk left North America in the summer of 2016 to return to Russia for his family, it seemed like he would play a few years in the KHL and then hang up his skates. After all, he was leaving the NHL just before his 38th birthday and had just experienced his worst offensive season (on a point-per-game basis at least) since he was a rookie. There were obvious signs of him slowing down, but he has found great success in Russia since leaving the Detroit Red Wings. That success may keep him going a while longer, at least according to his agent.
In an interview given in Russian, agent Dan Milstein of Gold Star Hockey makes it clear that Datsyuk isn’t considering retirement just yet. In fact, Milstein leaves the door open on a potential return to the Red Wings, explaining that it would be the right spot to return to if his client decided to pursue an NHL comeback. Datsyuk will at least continue playing hockey through his 41st birthday which comes this July, given his success with SKA St. Petersberg once again this season.
Since returning to the KHL, Datsyuk has recorded 103 points in 125 games, won a Gagarin Cup in 2017 and an Olympic gold last year as captain of the “Olympic Athletes from Russia” team. His current deal with SKA expires at the end of April and his NHL rights—currently held by Arizona—would also expire on July 1st leaving him an unrestricted free agent. Despite that, it still seems unlikely that he would ever pursue a return to the NHL at this point. Milstein explains that it was all up to Datsyuk to leave in the first place, and it would take the same sort of decision to return. More likely, Datsyuk will continue playing in the KHL and add to his already incredible career on the ice.