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Pavel Datsyuk, ex-Red Wings coach Bill Peters reunited in Russia

Mark Falkner
The Detroit News
Former Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk signed a one-year deal with the Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg of the Kontinental Hockey League, according to agent Dan Milstein.

Two-time Stanley Cup champion Pavel Datsyuk and former Red Wings assistant coach Bill Peters are reunited in the Kontinental Hockey League this year.

Datsyuk, who will turn 42 later this month, signed a one-year deal on Friday with the Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg of the KHL. No contract details were disclosed.

"He (Datsyuk) feels good, has no major injuries and feels he can help out his team," Datsyuk's agent Dan Milstein said. 

Datsyuk had five goals and 17 assists in 43 games for Yekaterinburg last year, ending speculation that he might return to Detroit after spending 14 years with the Red Wings.

"The last three years, he's been signing one-year extensions," Milstein said. "He takes his time during the summers, sits down and decides whether to play another year. He's home, he's happy and he'll finish his career at some point in Russia."

Assistant coaches Bill Peters, left, and Jeff Blashill during training camp at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, September 19, 2011.

Peters, who spent three years on Mike Babcock's coaching staff from 2011-2014, signed a two-year contract with Yekaterinburg in April.

The 54-year-old Peters resigned as head coach of the Calgary Flames in November of last year after forward Akim Aliu said Peters directed a racial slur toward him when they were both with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The 24-team KHL plans to start the 2020-21 season on Sept. 2 after cancelling the rest of the 2019-20 playoffs because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Avtomobilist, which posted a 35-19-8 record during the regular season, lost in the opening round of the playoffs.

"Pavel had a leadership role with the team last year because of his age and experience," Milstein said. "He'll talk to the new coach who he knows from their days together in Detroit and figure out what to expect this year."

The Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk celebrates with Alexei Kovalev in Russia's 2-0 win over Canada at the 2006 games in Torino. It was the second Olympics for Datsyuk, who won a bronze for Russia in the 2002 games in Salt Lake City.

In 2011, Peters was hired by Babcock along with current Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill to replace assistant coaches Brad McCrimmon (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl/KHL) and Paul MacLean (Ottawa Senators).

In the three years with Peters behind the bench, Datsyuk averaged more than a point per game (175 points in 173 games) but a knee injury during a Hart Trophy, MVP-type season in 2012 led to a first-round playoff loss to the Nashville Predators.

In 2013, Datsyuk went to Russia with Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin during the strike-shortened season and had 36 points in 31 games with CSKA Moscow. The Wings lost in Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs on an overtime goal by Brent Seabrook of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

After retiring in 2016, Datsyuk, a four-time Lady Byng Trophy winner (sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct) and three-time Selke Trophy winner (top defensive forward), played three years for SKA St. Petersburg and won a gold medal with the Olympic Athletes from Russia at the Winter Games in PyeongChang in 2018.

Pavel Datsyuk, left, and Niklas Kronwall celebrate their Stanley Cup victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the jubilant visitors dressing room at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, June 4, 2008.

He now lives with his wife and four children in his hometown of Yekaterinburg, east of Moscow and the fourth-largest city in Russia (1.5 million population).

Last month, Milstein was forced to respond to a report from a Russian media network that Datsyuk was holed up in a barricaded Russian monastery with a priest who made headlines for denying the existence of the coronavirus.

"When the news broke, I knew it wasn't true," Milstein said. "He was at home at his cottage. He sent me a video. 'Here I am, chopping wood.' I figured that was the best way to prove the report wasn't true. His family is priority No. 1. He's at home with them, staying in shape and preparing for the upcoming season."

mfalkner@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @falknerr