Detroit — Scrub those thoughts of Pavel Datsyuk once again wearing the Red Wings’ jersey out of your mind.
It appears likely Datsyuk is headed back to the KHL in Russia and likely finish his career with his hometown team Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg.
Datsyuk’s agent Dan Milstein said Tuesday he will meet with Datsyuk in the next day or two, and present his client with available options.
But Milstein confirmed there’s a good chance Datsyuk will play for Russian hometown team — something Datsyuk has always wanted to do.
Datsyuk, 41, announced earlier this spring he was not going to return to SKA St. Petersburg, where he’d been playing since leaving the Red Wings after the 2015-16 season.
With that decision, and the mild speculation during the regular season that a Datsyuk-Red Wings reunion could take place, the idea of Datsyuk playing at Little Caesars Arena suddenly didn't look too far-fetched.
But the arrival of Steve Yzerman as the Wings’ new general manager — and departure of Ken Holland to Edmonton in that same position — likely dimmed the chances of Datsyuk returning, the new regime wanting to go in a different direction.
The Wings' only had lukewarm interest, preferring to stay the course on the current rebuild and give larger roles to young players — who would be held back by Datsyuk's ice time.
Milstein said Datsyuk would only return to the NHL to play for the Red Wings. Datsyuk’s rights are actually owned by the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired Datsyuk (and his salary cap figure of $7.5 million) in the summer of 2016, as the Wings attempted to free themselves of that financial burden that season.
Datsyuk starred for 14 seasons with the Wings before leaving after the 2015-16 season to be closer to his daughter in Russia.