Despite writing a break up letter to the NHL, I can’t seem to fully disassociate myself from my beloved Red Wings. I’m still bitching on twitter about the various league happenings. I feel like I’m rubber necking at a horrible car accident. But this post is not about that.
After the end of the regular season, Mitch Albom, of all people (srsly, wtf?), broke the story that Pavel Datsyuk is [probably] going home this summer and walking away from the last year of his contract with the Wings.
Like all realistic fans, I knew he was getting up there in age, his surgery on his ankle last summer went longer than expected because it was in worse shape than they thought. But I want to be in denial, because for the last fourteen years he has been my favorite player.
He came into the league as Stevie Y’s career was coming to an end. He was the shining light into the dark sadness of Stevie’s inevitable retirement.
In a point of personal pride, it’s the first time I had ever been right about a player, and my dad had been wrong.
I attended a game in one of Datsyuk’s first couple seasons with the Wings. We got there early. I had a sign of taped together 8.5×11 sheets. Before the game I met Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond, out of pure chance. I asked them for their autographs, they asked to see my sign.
“Datsyuk, will you marry me?”
Ken then informed me that Datsyuk was married.
I held up the sign during warm ups anyway. I got a few stick taps, and a lot of laughs. I looked a lot younger than my age then (still do, just not as much) so even though I was 14 or 15 I probably looked 10-12. Maybe younger. I don’t know.
I also got a warm up puck. That was cool.
Datsyuk has been a delight to watch over the last fourteen years. I watched him in probably his last home game in game four. The feels were overwhelming as the buzzer sounded.
As a Detroit sports fan, I’ve been disappointed many times. I’ve been angry, sad, frustrated. But never have I cried over a moment in sports, until I watched Datsyuk’s [probable] last shift at home.
Despite disagreeing with some of his social stances, I have been an on-ice fan of his for so long, I don’t know who will fill the void.
Thank you, Magic Man, for your years, for your sweet moves, for staying as long as you have, despite the pull of family.
“It’s a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done. It’s a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.” – A Tale of Two Cities (1935)
So long, Pavel.