This was always the most likely outcome, even if the 40-year old center had left the door slightly open by mentioning that the Red Wings would be the only team he would return for. It didn’t make a lot of sense for Detroit to bring him back during a short rebuild, especially as they try to establish their next franchise player in Dylan Larkin. Dastyuk, while still effective in the KHL, may have been more of a distraction than anything for the Red Wings this season.
Still, playing another year in his hometown is a nice capstone to an incredible career. Datsyuk was originally selected in the sixth round of the 1998 draft, and wouldn’t make his presence felt in Detroit for another few years. Once he hit the NHL scene however there was no stopping him, as the incredible two-way forward recorded 918 points in 953 regular season games while taking home three Selke trophies as the league’s top defensive forward and leading the Red Wings to two Stanley Cups. As he got older, he returned to Russia to be closer to his family and continued his outstanding production, posting 147 points in 166 KHL contests and taking home the Gagarin Cup in 2017. There is very little that Datsyuk hasn’t accomplished, especially after finally winning an Olympic gold medal last spring as captain of the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
It seems extremely unlikely that Datsyuk will consider an NHL return now, meaning the 2015-16 season will be his last in North America.