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августа 2003 года.
Red Wings expect Datsyuk to flourish in key season - The Detroit News
By Ted Kulfan
DETROIT -- Reporters stood two and three deep all around Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk. Bright lights were shining directly on the Russian playmaker, and microphones and tape recorders were inching closer to his face.
It was treatment befitting the game's first star, which Datsyuk was on this evening late last season. Most young players would have relished the attention. But Datsyuk, 24, who possesses a devilish sense of humor but still struggles with the English language, wasn't enjoying the moment.
"I have a headache," Datsyuk said, ending the post-game interview and walking away.
Now, with training camp just around the corner, Datsyuk had better get ready for more attention. He'll have an even larger role in his third NHL season.
With center Sergei Fedorov in Anaheim, Steve Yzerman expected to play more wing than center to alleviate the stress on his problematic right knee, and center Igor Larionov still an un-signed free agent and possibly on the threshold of retirement at age 42, some of the responsibility of the Wings' maintaining their offensive might falls directly on Datsyuk's shoulders.
He's done a good job in his first two seasons in Detroit, but now Datsyuk will have to do even more.
"He is part of a group of young and talented players who are important to the balance and makeup of our team," Wings General Manager Ken Holland said.
After missing December, and some of January, last season because of a twisted left knee, Datsyuk returned and excelled while playing on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Brett Hull. During one 17-game stretch, the trio scored a mind-boggling 72 points.
For the season, in 64 games, Datsyuk had 12 goals and 39 assists for 51 points.
"Good chemistry," Wings Coach Dave Lewis said of Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Hull. "They just have a good feel for the game."
Lewis hasn't made any firm decisions yet, but has stated on a few occasions since last season ended he intends to keep the Datsyuk line together heading into training camp.
At a time when defense and goaltending are emphasized in the NHL, Lewis enjoys having a playmaker such as Datsyuk at his disposal.
"Pavel has the ability to make plays from the blue line in," Lewis said. "He can beat players one-on-one to get scoring chances. He's such a creative player, he sees opportunities on the ice many players don't see."
Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Hull deflect credit when asked about the success of their line. But Zetterberg and Hull agree that the trigger for the offensive creativity is Datsyuk. Hull, one of the game's all-time great goal-scorers, has thrived while playing on a Datsyuk-centered line the past two seasons.
"The skill he possesses is mind-boggling," Hull said.
What Hull appreciates about Datsyuk, and Zetterberg, is that the young players both are unselfish and dedication to finding an open man on the ice.
"It's the way the game is played," Hull said. "It's pretty easy for me with those two guys.
"With (Datsyuk) learning the way the NHL game is played -- the defensive part of it, the give-and-go -- he has only begun to scratch the surface. And that's what's really scary."
Early last season, Hull told Datsyuk that Datsyuk was trying too hard to beat defenders by himself, and wasn't using his teammates enough. The passing, and give-and-go style, returned quickly.
Zetterberg, runnerup for NHL rookie of the year, gave a significant amount of credit to Datsyuk.
"Pavel is a wonderful passer," Zetterberg said. "He puts the puck in a position where you can shoot it quick and easy. It's amazing how he can find (an open) player on the ice."
One of Datsyuk's biggest hurdles this season could be the loss of friends Larionov and defenseman Max Kuznetsov off the roster.
Kuznetsov was traded to Los Angeles at last season's trade deadline, along with center Sean Avery, for defenseman Mathieu Schneider. Larionov, who has been a mentor to Datsyuk, on and off the ice, might retire.
Given the poise he's shown during his first two years in the NHL, it is likely Datsyuk will be able to handle whatever challenges he encounters.
"He's a focused guy, a hard-working guy. And he wants to be better every day," Larionov said.
"He's one of the more exciting young players in the game," said Brian Engblom, ESPN hockey analyst. "With guys like Datsyuk, Zetterberg, (defenseman Jiri) Fischer, the Wings have a good base for the future."
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