Реклама в Интернет * Все Кулички
|Datsyuk still living life of fun and games
22 апреля 2015 года. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press
Pavel Datsyuk smiled, something he's as wont to do as steal a puck off a helpless opponent.
At 36, a practically elderly age in professional sports, Datsyuk is having as much fun as ever, and is as much fun to be around as ever. Fellow Detroit Red Wings veterans suspect that the guy who a decade and a half ago taught himself English partially by watching Tom and Jerry cartoons sometimes pretends not to understand it today. No one really believes him, because as Henrik Zetterberg put it, "he's very smart. He gets away sometimes with no English, but he's a funny guy. He always comes in with a smile on his face and he has some pretty good jokes."
Datsyuk has got smooth moves everywhere. He's got three points already against the Tampa Bay Lightning as the Wings take a 2-1 lead into Thursday's Game 4. Datsyuk's second goal wasn't a usual one for him as it deflected off one of his legs, but "I know what I am doing," Datsyuk said when talking about the goal.
He has known what he is doing since he joined the Wings in 2001, even if he didn't know how long he would be doing it. Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull was among Datsyuk's first admirers, a picky goal scorer who relished being put next to a rookie because Datsyuk would get him the puck. Datsyuk helped the Wings win a Stanley Cup as a rookie, and another one in 2008. Now he's aiming for a third.
"Actually when I come here I don't think too far," Datsyuk said. "My mind is too small to think too far. I just enjoy it year by year, and I'm happy where I am now."
It's a happiness Datsyuk doesn't keep to himself. If his English is broken around the media, it isn't around the coaching staff.
"He has great thoughts offensively and defensively," Mike Babcock said. "He doesn't mind sharing his opinion with the Coach. He's a treat to be around, to say the least. He's made me a lot better coach through his vision of how he understands the game and how he thinks the game should be played.
"It's a real honor to be around him. He's a good, good man, he's a good teammate, he does it right, he leads by example. He is better without the puck than he is with it, if you can imagine that."
Babcock brought up something no one wants to imagine, saying "the only thing that makes you nervous is, if he wasn't here, who is taking his spot? I don't know the answer to that."
The answer last year, when Datsyuk missed half a season because of injuries, was no one. He was largely healthy this season, and as he proved nightly, his world-class skills have not aged. He's got another two seasons left on his last extension, and there's no reason to think that a guy having so much fun wouldn't continue.
Accolades this spring include yet again being a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded annually to a top-end player who doesn't resort to retaliation penalties even as he's mauled by opponents. It's an award that former Wings great Nicklas Lidstrom should have been awarded, too, but for part of his career the trophy kept going home with Datsyuk. He won it four straight years from 2006-2009, was third in voting in 2010, and this spring is a finalist along with Calgary's Jiri Hudler and Los Angeles' Anze Kopitar. Datsyuk topped a point-a-game at 65 points in 63 games, while receiving just eight penalty minutes. The winner will be announced June 24.
Datsyuk said the key to playing cleanly is, "move your feet first, and second, I play always with good teammates and they always help me, take care of me. It's nice to be back on track. I like it, to be nominated for anything. Lady Byng is important for me, too. I think it's the best trophy ever."
That last bit was said with one of those smiles, the one that's so contagious. Asked if it helped having a week of downtime between the last game of the regular season and the first one against the Lightning, Datsyuk grinned. "What do you mean, week off? What do I do, vacation? I'm working to be prepared for the playoffs."
The Lady Byng is under-appreciated, though not by other players who know what it is like to go against the opponent's best players every game and rarely take a penalty. "It's impressive," Zetterberg said. "If you look back to the years he played in this league, he probably could be nominated every year, and have a good chance of winning every year.
"He's a special player, and it's awesome to see that he gets rewarded."
Zetterberg joked Datsyuk wouldn't get any sportsmanship recognition if it was based on practices, "because he's a lot dirtier in practices than he is in games." That's because in the twilight of his career, for Pavel Datsyuk, life is fun, and life is hockey games.