Pavel Datsyuk or Fedorov?
Who would you rather have on the Red Wings Sergei Fedorov or Paval Datsyuk?
It would have been an easy choice a season or two ago. Now, with Datsyuks rapid rise, its no longer a slam dunk decision.
The way Pavel Datsyuk is playing, I wouldnt trade him straight up for Fedorov, said Darren Pang, an ESPN analyst.
Pang likes the consistency and work ethic Datsyuk brings to the ice, traits Fedorov doesnt have on a nightly basis.
You know what youre going to get (from Datsyuk), Pang said.
But Fedorov, who won the Hart Trophy as NHL Most Valuable Player in 1994, still is capable of dominating a game.
Hes one of the most talented players in the NHL today, ESPN analyst Barry Melrose said. Fedorov has as much skill as anyone.
It wouldnt be an easy choice.
Dont underestimate the influence Igor Larionov had on countryman Pavel Datsyuk the last two seasons.
Larionov signed a free-agent contract with the New Jersey Devils just before the start of training camp. But when he was with the Wings, Larionov provided Datsyuk with sage advice. He helped Datsyuk learn how to become a professional hockey, how to deal with situations on and off the ice. He also helped Datsyuk get acclimated to life in North America.
He helped me so much, Datsyuk said. He helps a lot of young players.
Larionov knew last season Datsyuk had the skills to be a special player.
Datsyuk was eager to learn, which is somewhat uncommon among many young players in the league today.
He listens and learns, Larionov said last season. He wants to be a good player, and he wants to learn how to become a player like that. Hes willing to wait for his chance and hes patient. Hes going to be a good player for many years.
Pavel Datsyuk has become a regular on SportsCenter this year, with his offensive creativity and stickhandling ability leading to jaw-dropping goals.
What has been his best move?
Datsyuks former linemate, Henrik Zetterberg, remembers a move during training camp in Traverse City that was dazzling an inside-out beauty during a shootout that left a junior goalie in a pretzel.
That was pretty good, Zetterberg said.
Not bad, but Datsyuks final-minute goal in Dallas on Nov. 12 gets top honors. It left Stars goalie Marty Turco sprawled and dazed on the ice as Datsyuk put all of his deft stickhandling on display.
The play was a staple on ESPN highlights for days. Its likely to show up on year-end review shows in the next week or so.
Just ridiculous, the Red Wings Steve Thomas said of Datsyuks goal. I couldnt contain myself on the bench.
The only thing more impressive than Pavel Datsyuks play this season might be the improvement hes shown in speaking and understanding English.
In past seasons, reporters needed an interpreter. That role was usually filled by former Wings defenseman Maxim Kuznetsov.
This season, Datsyuk is getting more comfortable doing interviews on his own, even for television, which he used to avoid like the plague.
Better? Datsyuk asked after completing an interview recently.
Datsyuk took an English class, but simply being around the locker room and watching television has helped him pick up the language better.