Red Wings centre Pavel Datsyuk may make his last NHL appearance as Detroit enters their 25th straight post-season campaign this week.
The 37-year-old veteran told the Detroit Free Press that he plans to retire from the NHL and return home to Russia at the end of the season.
"I'm thinking I go home after this season," he told the Free Press. "I may not be done with hockey, but — it is hard to say — I think I am done playing in NHL."
Dan Milstein, his agent, confirmed Datsyuk's decision, which is motivated by family reasons. Datsyuk plans to reunite with his teenage daughter living in Russia.
Datsyuk still has one year remaining on his deal with the Red Wings. An early departure would mean a $7.5 million US cap hit due to a clause in the collective bargaining agreement that dictates teams are liable if they sign a player over 35 to a multi-year contract. His $22.5 million US, three-year extension took effect last season.
Milstein said Datsyuk's plans will not be final, though, until after the post-season when he meets with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland along with owners Mike and Marian Ilitch.
"I feel very bad about it," Datsyuk told the Free Press. "Looking back, I wish I had done a year-by-year contract, not a three-year contract. I stayed [last year] in respect for Ilitch family. I don't want to leave team in disaster. But if I have to do over again, I would sign a different deal. I didn't realize it at the time."
Datsyuk was drafted by the Red Wings 171st overall in the 1998 NHL Entry draft. Datsyuk has 314 goals and 918 points in 953 career NHL regular season games. He won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2002 and 2008. He is also a four-time Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner, and a three-time Frank J. Selke Trophy winner.