When Pavel Datsyuk returned to the KHL last summer, many thought that would be the start of a steady decline that would eventually see him retire. Good individual point totals and a Gagarin Cup would suggest otherwise though and it was great to see the 38-year-old raise the KHL Playoff Championship trophy for his team, SKA St Petersburg.
SKA won the Gagarin Cup on Sunday, defeating Metallurg Magnitogorsk 5-3 to win game five and win the series 4-1. Datsyuk didn’t actually play in game five due to injury but he made sure he was available on the ice to lift the cup after the game. He joined Ilya Kovalchuk, who captains SKA and who played in the NHL against Datsyuk and the pair paraded the trophy around the ice together.
The silky Russian joins an elite group of players who have lifted both the NHL and KHL playoff titles, adding this weekend’s Gagarin Cup to his two Stanley Cup victories. Datsyuk scored eight points in the seven playoff games he played; great numbers to go alongside his 34 points from 44 regular season games, another good total. For those who thought the 38-year-old was moving back to the KHL to take it easy, Datsyuk has certainly proved you wrong.
As for the team, SKA St. Petersburg have now lifted their second playoff trophy in three years and their persistence to land Datsyuk last summer has certainly been rewarded. He has been outstanding all season, helped boost the already prolific offense and made a big difference on the way to winning the title.
In all likelihood, Datsyuk will continue to play next season and if he does there is nothing to say he won’t repeat what he has done this season. Although now 38, the Magic Man has plenty left in the tank judging on this season’s exploits, so write him, and SKA off at your peril next season.