The agent explained why Datsyuk was not going to Kazan. Ak Bars had decided not to sign players who couldn't commit to the entire season. That way, the team would not be disrupted if the lockout ended and the NHLers returned to North America.
This was serious. Datsyuk was available.
"I'm in," Fedorov said.
A little while later, he walked into the front lobby, still wearing a red undershirt soaked with sweat. As one of his teammates held a camera, he signed a Red Wings hat and took a picture for a fan. It was his teammate's mother.
"Everybody," Fedorov said, "sort of kneel down towards his game, his attitude."
This was why having Datsyuk, even for an indefinite amount of time, was too good to be true.
Here, it all can come out in full. He can play in front of his own people, who usually have to watch him on TV at odd hours. He can connect with kids. "I like to play home, for Russian fans," Datsyuk said. "They miss us, too, because we play during the nighttime [in NHL]. Not everybody can watch and work. And I speak Russian language. It's easy for me. … "Lots of kids watching us. Sometimes they a little bit shy, but we teach them, 'Don't be shy.' "
He can speak to the Russian media. He can speak up in the dressing room. And he can still lead by example, showing the others what went into winning two Stanley Cups in Detroit. "What I see off-ice, that's the Red Wings school, no doubt," Fedorov said. "Pavel's exceptional. Everybody saying, 'What you gonna do without Pavel?' My answer: 'We're gonna just die here without him.' We're gonna fight, fight, fight. But we're gonna die here without him."
* * * * *
Detroit is dying a little without Datsyuk right now, and Datsyuk is dying a little without Detroit. Asked if he missed Detroit, he did not hesitate.
"Yes," he said. "A lot."
What about it?
Datsyuk said he misses much about Detroit, but he's not following the NHL lockout closely. (Getty)"Hockey," Datsyuk said. "Fans. Locker room. People. It's tough a little bit. After over 10 years, you kind of change atmosphere, it's a little bit different."
Datsyuk has played for the Red Wings and lived in the Detroit area since 2001 – except, of course, for the '04-05 NHL lockout, which he spent with Dynamo Moscow. He has won a lot of games. He has made a lot of friends. He has made Detroit his adopted home.
He said he is not following lockout news.
"Remember, Russia is closed country," he cracked. "Nobody knows what's going on."
"No," he continued. "Too expensive in Russia."
Just Datsyuk being Datsyuk.
He turned serious.
"I can't do anything," he said. "Why I need know?"
If he knows, he will just worry. People will just ask him questions. He will just have to talk about it and think about it some more. There is no point.
"Save my time," he said.
He said he isn't comparing the KHL to the NHL. He is just enjoying the hockey, playing with Russians against Russians for Russians for the most part, while learning about some young players he didn't know before.
He is having fun. You can tell by the way he plays. ... You can tell by the way he jokes. Does he like the big ice? "It's too much skating," said Datsyuk, 34. "I'm not too young anymore. I need more energy." Doesn't it help him make more moves? "I have too much room," he said. "After I make a move, I have long way to skate to net."
You can tell by the way he smiles.
"It's awesome when you play at home," he said. "Always awesome."
Glad he is enjoying his time back home. Actually was kind of encouraged about the things he said about Detroit and the NHL. Doesn't sound like he has turned the page. We always knew he wanted to finish in Russia, but it doesn't sound like that is happening right now or real soon. We might get one more short contract out of him.