Detroit Red Wings: Who defines Detroit – Z or Pavs?


When I first sat down to write a piece defining Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg as the most important Detroit Red Wing of the last generation, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make such a difficult decision. After pondering the question for a few moments, a line from one of my favorite movies, The Big Lebowski, popped into my head; “Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there.”

Well, the quote didn’t exactly answer the question for me, but it got the wheels on my thought-train rolling, and I also like to use quotes from The Big Lebowski whenever possible.

So who is “the man” of this generation of Detroit hockey? Is it Pavel Datsyuk? Is it Henrik Zetterberg? It’s almost impossible to think about one player without mentioning or thinking of the other, but let’s break it down and see if we can answer this very loaded question. First, let’s start off by analyzing our captain and bearded leader.

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Henrik Zetterberg:

In his twelve seasons with the Red Wings, Zetterberg has played in 836 regular-season games, and in those 836 games Hank has accumulated 296 goals, 490 assists and a +159 rating (only 2 seasons with a minus rating). Henrik has also played in 75% of the 82 regular-season games in 10 out of his 11 seasons, excluding the shortened 2012-2013 NHL season (where he played 46 of 48 games).

You can’t mention the Red Wings without mentioning the playoffs. Zetterberg has appeared in 132 post-season games for the Wings, amassing 56 goals, 63 assists, one Stanley Cup and one Conn Smythe Trophy. In the Red Wings back-to-back Stanley Cup Final runs in 2008 and 2009, “Z” was stellar. During those two post-seasons, Hank had 24 goals and 27 assists in 45 games.

Some other noteworthy accomplishments by Zetterberg include; 2 NHL All-Star selections, 2003 Calder Trophy runner-up, 2008 Selke Trophy nominee, Red Wings’ franchise record holder for most goals (13) and points (27) in a single playoff season, and the NHL record for most shots on goal in a single post-season (116 in 07-08). 8 20+ goal seasons, 4 30+ goal seasons.

Those are some pretty impressive stats for a guy who was drafted 210th overall. Now let’s a take a look at how “The Magic Man” stacks up against Hank’s numbers.

Pavel Datsyuk:

In his 13 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, Pavel Datsyuk has played in 887 regular-season games and collected 298 goals, 571 assists and a +242 rating (only one season with a minus rating). In 10 of 12 full 82 regular-game seasons, Pavel has played in at least 75% of the games. In the shortened 2012-2013 season, he only missed one game.

Concerning Datsyuk’s playoff numbers, he has appeared in 152 post-season games, scoring 42 goals and 71 assists. Like Zetterberg, Datsyuk was impressive during the Red Wings’ back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances in 08 and 09. In those two post-seasons, Datsyuk had 11 goals and 21 assists in 38 games played.

Some of Pavel Datsyuk’s other notable accomplishments include; 4 NHL All-Star selections, 2 Stanley Cups, 4 consecutive Lady Byng Trophy wins (06-09), 3 consecutive Selke Trophy wins (08-10), 8 20+ goal seasons, 3 30+ goal seasons.

If you’re going to pick the more defining player based on stats alone, Datsyuk would have a slight advantage over Zetterberg. Granted, Datsyuk has played one more season than Zetterberg, so it’s only natural that his stats would be higher. Despite Datsyuk’s extra season on Henrik, Zetterberg’s stats are not that far behind Pavel’s, in fact, Datsyuk has only 2 more regular-season goals than Zetterberg, even with a 51 game advantage.

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So you’ve got Datsyuk with the statistical advantage, and you’ve got Zetterberg (not far behind stats wise) carrying on in the footstep’s of Yzerman and Lidstrom as captain of the Red Wings. Both players are two of the most well-respected, admired and skilled players of the last 15 years to play in the NHL. So who gets the title as the “defining Detroit Red Wing of the this generation”?

After analyzing the stats, and considering some other factors, I would have to dub Pavel Datsyuk as the defining Red Wing of the the generation. This is in no way a slight to Henrik Zetterberg or his skills, leadership, or contributions to the Detroit Red Wings. To put it simply, Pavel Datsyuk is “The Magic Man”, and for 13 years he has stood out as one of the most electrifying players in the game.

I’m willing to bet that if you asked a fan of any other NHL team to name a player on the Detroit Red Wings, most would name Pavel Datsyuk. This is a testament to the impact Datsyuk has had on not only Detroit Red Wings’ fans, but hockey fans in general. It’s not only hockey fans who appreciate and respect Pavel Datsyuk, it’s NHL players as well.

Both Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk provide an elite level of skill and leadership that other NHL teams would love to have. Together the duo has given Detroit hockey fans plenty of exciting and memorable moments, but in the end there is only one “Magic Man”.

Next: Who is The Red Wings Next Captain?

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