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Pavel Datsyuk says will take a few days to decide: Return to the Red Wings or retire from the NHL.

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Tampa Bay — Pavel Datsyuk sounded like a man wrestling with a hard decision.

His Red Wings teammates sounded as if Datsyuk might be a former teammate now with the season over after Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay eliminated the Red Wings from the playoffs.

Datsyuk, who’ll be 38 in July, is debating whether to return to Russia to be closer to his daughter — or return and fulfill the final year of his three-year contract.

Datsyuk has stated this is likely his final season — but has also slightly backtracked, saying he has to meet with owners Mike and Marian Ilitch and general manager Ken Holland.

“Very emotional,” Datsyuk said of what could be his final NHL game. “I need to cool down and start thinking about it (his decision) more.”

Datsyuk didn’t want to think much about the days ahead and deciding what his future is.

“Not happy about these questions,” Datsyuk said. “Scary questions.”

Datsyuk struggled in the series with no points in five games — one of many Red Wings who struggled in the series.

“I’ve never seen a game where you can win a game if you don’t score,” Datsyuk said. “We need(ed) to find goals.

Standing in the handshake line afterward Datsyuk didn’t sound overly emotional, he was simply hoping for more time that obviously was never to come.

“Recognize game over and we lost series,” said Datsyuk, who wanted to “steal more time”.

Datsyuk was “honored to wear the Red Wings jersey” and said it was “special and emotional” to play in front of sellout crowds at home and huge number of Red Wings fans on the road.

Returning from ankle surgery last summer, Datsyuk said it was a “bouncy season for me, (I) start slow, pick it up, then back again.”

Coach Jeff Blashill is confident Datsyuk will make the best decision for Datsyuk — but is hoping Datsyuk returns.

“Pavel will do what Pavel wants to do,” Blashill said. “I’ll sit down with Pavel at the end of the year and obviously with (the Ilitches and Kenny Holland) and we’ll see what he decides

“Pavel is one of the best competitors that will ever be in this league. He was amazing to coach this year. I hope I get the chance to coach him again next year. His work ethic is unreal.”

Henrik Zetterberg, one of Datsyuk’s best friends on the team, wouldn’t comment on the matter after the game, saying he'll address it at locker clean out.

Niklas Kronwall hoped this wasn’t the end of Datsyuk’s NHL career.

“Let’s hope it’s not, I just hope it’s not,” Kronwall said. “It’s a pretty empty feeling. I just hope for everyone’s sake, for the hockey fans and us and Detroit that’s it’s not.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/tkulfan

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