7 Years is a long time.
I was 15 years old when I had my second International Tournament (Soccer) in Denmark.
We went by bus (plane was too expensive), it was a 15 hour drive from Holland, where I live, to Denmark.
So what do you do?
You watch movies!
The bus driver decided to show “7 years in Tibet”.
For the people who don’t know the movie: “Brad Pitt goes to Tibet for 7 Years!”.
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t remember much about the movie, but I do remember one thing; it was a loooooong movie.
Sitting in the bus I had the feeling that I just saw a movie that lasted 7 years. T
The point I am trying to make - Pavel Datsyuk just signed a 7-year deal worth $46.9-million, that pretty much guarantees he will finish his NHL career with the Red Wings.
According to Datsyuk, he signed with the Wings rather than explore unrestricted free agency because, "it's a good hockey town, good tradition (and a) good organization. They help me a lot. I'm very appreciative to play in Detroit."
It’s the biggest an longest contract the Detroit Red Wings organization ever gave to a player in their history.
I don’t think I have to explain that Detroit had some great, great players over the past 15 years.
Still, they have never given such huge contract to a player (not even the “Captain”).
So I asked myself the question: Why him?
Pavel Datyuk (Павел Дацюк, Pavel Dacjuk)!
Born on July 20th, 1978 in Sverdlovsk, USSR (now Yekaterinburg, Russia). Datsyuk grew up in Yekaterinburg and was never considered an elite player because of his size.
He was 5 ft 8 in (173 m), 145 lb (66 kg) at the time.
He stayed with local teams throughout his youth, and was passed over in the 1996 and 1997 NHL Entry Drafts. He was finally picked in 1998 NHL Entry Draft, in the sixth round as 171st overall, by the Detroit Red Wings.
He was the Wings' 8th choice in that draft and while they liked his skills, they were not certain he would ever grow enough and become strong enough to play in the NHL.
As it turns out, he did grow and gain the necessary strength and the Wings decided to bring him to North America.
He arrived in Detroit for the 2001-2002 NHL season.
Datsyuk can amaze people with his 1on1 moves and his ability to make goalies look silly.
He now has back to back 87 points seasons but hasn’t produced in the playoffs. A lot of people were not “high” on Pavel because of his playoff history.
A case can be made here:
Datsyuk only has 3 goals in 42 playoff games, that’s not what you are looking for if you are Detroit.
You don’t have to be an expert to notice that, that isn’t much.
The Red Wings are taking a big gamble with this seven year deal.
However, the Red Wings organization didn’t see it like that, ‘specially Steve Yzerman.
Yzerman (Dutch for Iron Man - ironic isn’t it) was the biggest reason that Detroit signed Datsyuk to a seven year deal. Ilitch said Yzerman repeatedly said “we’ve got to sign him, we’ve got to sign him.”
“Steve has taken a special interest in Pavel,” Ilitch said, “and that made me feel good.” Yzerman, who played with Datsyuk for four seasons, explained why he felt it was important to secure Datsyuk.
He said: “if he leaves this summer, we’re going to try and replace him, we’re going to have to go out on the market and we’re probably going to spend more on a player that we don’t like as much as Pave.
With these UFA agents coming at younger age, you really have to be certain and really know your player and if you believe in him, tie him up! We believe in Pavel.” It’s great to hear that Steve believes in Pavel but before I see him do something in the postseason, I don’t!
Things have changed in Hockeytown. Yzerman and Shanahan aren’t here anymore. Now the kids have to take over. Well, they’re not kids anymore, are they! Datsyuk 28, Henrik Zetterberg 26 and Nicklas Kronwall 26 are the future of the organization. Kronwall signed a five year deal (worth 15 million) and Zetterberg is UFA after 2 seasons and will ask for the same kind of money as Datsyuk. This season Datsyuk stepped up after Zetterberg went down with a back injury late in the season, leading the Red Wings offensively AND defensively. He showed everyone after a slow start of the season (Zetterberg also had a slow start) that he can be a #1 center for the Red Wings.
He needs to be a #1 center for the kind of money he is going to get!
Red Wings fans are spoiled fans. We are used to watching Sergei Federov flying all over the ice. Sergei is the benchmark for Pavel and maybe that’s not fair.
The good news is that Detroit has a #1 center for the next seven years. Did I say that he had signed for seven years? Yeah, I believe I did! He showed that he can be the ‘go to’ guy during the regular season. Now he has to prove it during the playoffs (of course he needs some help other than Zetterberg!).
Do I believe in the little guy?
Yes I do!
And hopefully Wings fans are going believe too. Very soon!
01 May 2007
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