Born July 20, 1978 in Sverdlovsk, USSR (now Yekaterinburg, Russia) is a Russian-born professional ice hockey player.
Datsyuk grew up in Yekaterinburg and was never considered an elite player because of his size. He was 5 ft 8 in (173 m), 145 lb (66 kg) at the time. He stayed with local teams throughout his youth, and was passed over in the 1996 and 1997 NHL Entry Drafts. He was finally picked in 1998 NHL Entry Draft, in the sixth round as 171st overall, by the Detroit Red Wings. He was the Wings' 8th choice in that draft and while they liked his skills, they were not certain he would ever grow enough and become strong enough to play in the NHL. As it turns out, he did grow and gain the necessary strength and the Wings decided to bring him to North America. He arrived in Detroit for the 2001-2002 NHL season.
He played for the local team Yekaterinburg Dynamo for the 1997-1998 and 1999-2000 seasons before moving up to the Russian Super League's Ak Bars Kazan for the 2000-2001 season. His numbers were not exceptionally impressive in the RSL (9 goals, 17 assists for 26 points through 42 games) but the Wings saw enough in him to bring him to the NHL the next season.
Hopes were high for the 2001-2002 season in Detroit after a blockbuster summer that saw the acquisition of future Hall of Fame shoo-ins Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Dominik Hasek. A team that already had a number of Hall of Fame-caliber players, Detroit looked to be a lock for the Stanley Cup. Datsyuk came to the city at the start of all this and it turned out to be the best possible situation for him. He had mentors including Soviet legend Igor Larionov and loud-mouthed Hull teaching him different aspects of the game and had a solid lineup backing him up in case of mistakes. He was put on a line with Hull and Boyd Devereaux and had a productive first year, scoring 11 goals and notching 24 assists for a total of 35 points through 70 games. The League saw many examples of Pavel's brilliant puck handling skills, passing ability and accurate shot through the season and he built a name for himself as a player who could make just about any defender look like a complete fool. The length and dif ficulty of the NHL season got to him eventually, causing him to sit out a clump of games at the end of the year in preparation for the playoffs. He contributed three goals and three assists to the Wings' Stanley Cup run and ended up being part of the Wings' third championship team in five years.
Expectations were high for Datsyuk's second season, particularly with the addition of another highly touted prospect to the team, Henrik Zetterberg. He did not disappoint. Zetterberg replaced Devereaux on the Datsyuk-Hull line and the famous version of the "Two Kids and a Goat Line" was born. He only played 64 games due to a knee injury but ended up with 51 points on the year. His playoff performance was a bit disappointing that year but the same could be said about the entire Red Wings team. They were swept by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the first round and Datsyuk was held pointless by the goaltending brilliance of Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The departure of Sergei Fedorov in the 2003 off-season made room for Datsyuk to rise to prominence on the Wings. He took full advantage of his extra ice time and basically became the Wings' number one center. He no longer had Larionov as a mentor since he had left for the New Jersey Devils but his departure allowed for Hull to have a larger influence on Pavel's play. Larionov, who always was in a passing mindset, honed one part of Datsyuk's game while Hull, always a shoot-first kind of player, taught Pavel to shoot the puck more. This made him a much more complete player and is the reason he scored 30 goals to go along with his 38 assists through 75 games in the 2003-2004 season. He amazed the hockey world with the goal he scored on Marty Turco on November 12, 2003. He ended up being selected to play in the 2004 NHL All-Star Game and entered the ranks of legitimate scorers in the NHL. In the playoffs, he had no goals and 6 assists through 12 games before the Wings were eliminated in the secound round.
He was a restricted free agent this past off-season but could not reach a deal with the Wings despite repeated statements by his agent indicating his desire to stay in Detroit. He chose not to go into salary arbitration and played with Dynamo Moscow during the 2004-2005 lockout. On September 19 2005, after protracted negotiations, Datsyuk agreed to a two year deal with the Red Wings for a total of $7.8 million.
Datsyuk continued his stellar play with the return of the NHL in the 2005-06 NHL season and earned himself a spot on the Russian team for the 2006 Winter Olympics.
At the 2005-06 NHL awards show following the 2005-06 season, Pavel was awarded the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for his gentlemanly play that season, in which he took only 22 penalty minutes despite playing in almost every game.
On April 6, 2007, the Red Wings announced in a press conference that they signed forward Pavel Datsyuk to a seven year contract extension valued at $46.9 million. This deal represents the longest contract extension in team history.
"This contract was extremely important to me," Datsyuk said. ‘’Especially since I have been a Red Wing since 2001.'’
Datsyuk had an outstanding season 2006-07 with 27 goals and 87 points, along with 8 goals and 16 points in the playoffs. He won his second consecutive Lady Byng Memorial Trophy following this season.
Pavel Datsyuk will continue to be one of the most important Red Wings for years to come.
He wears number 13 and has nicknames ranging from "Pavs" to "Dats" to "Moves".