Dec 31, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk during practice the day before the Winter Classic hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

On The Eve of Pavel Datsyuk’s Possible Return, How Should Fans Feel?

Red Wings fans have waited to hear of Pavel Datsyuk’s return since January 1. But it’s been a sore subject for the past week when the Toronto Sun reported that the Russian still planned on captaining and playing in the Sochi Olympics regardless of whether he got any NHL games in beforehand or not.

That seems a little…odd, to put it nicely.

It’s true that this might not be Datsyuk’s return. He practiced on a line Wednesday with Darren Helm and Daniel Alfredsson. He will practice with the team tomorrow morning and then see how he feels. Unless something catastrophic happens, however, let’s bank on him gracing the lineup Thursday night.

But for him to plan on playing in the Olympics, seemingly despite injury makes us fans feel a little slighted. And concerned. While we should be joyous for his return, we find ourselves scratching our heads and wondering if this is really a good idea.

I had a very in-depth conversation about this with a friend during the Super Bowl (because neither of us cared about the Super Bowl itself).

Is he pushing himself to come back early just to get back into the swing of playing? It wouldn’t surprise me. It’s an honor to represent your country in the Olympics; it’s an even greater honor to be the captain of the team representing your country in the Olympics. And if there’s one thing we all know about Pavel Datsyuk, he loves playing for Russia in Russia (for Russians, but you know, then it’s repetitive).

We know he wants to play in the Olympics. We understand, whether we want to admit it or not. Do we think he should be pushing himself like this? No. In fact, we would be much happier if he decided to sit out and rest up for those couple of weeks. There’s always that concern of players getting injured during the Olympics, and fans are doubly—no, triply—worried about that this year with all of the injuries we’ve dealt with already.

But—and this was the thought that my friend and I both fell upon—if he sat out for the Olympics, would he harbor any amount of resentment? Even if it was just a sliver? Or disappointment in himself? And would that disappointment carry over into his gameplay for the Red Wings after the Olympic break?

It’s not like Datsyuk to hold onto a grudge or let emotions control him (except for that fight against Corey Perry). However, bowing out of something like this when he’s been named captain could result in a negativity we’ve rarely seen from him. He’s driven to play in these Olympics and you can’t really fault him for it. He wants to play in front of his home crowd more than anything else. To be able to do so while still playing for the Red Wings is probably close to a dream come true for him.

So how should we feel about Datsyuk’s return? Happy that he wants to play and get back into the swing of things but slightly worried that it might not go as well as we hope and something bad might happen. But let’s focus on the positives.

(We’ve got another article about this here at OT, written by John. Check it out here)

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Tags: 2014 Sochi Olympics NHL Pavel Datsyuk

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