Was this the first "real" challenge for Detroit this season?
"I wouldn't say that. Every opponent is a serious one. Don't underestimate other teams!" said Datsyuk. "I don't agree with you here. Yes, some teams didn't start well, but our wins don't come easy. But you can consider the Capitals to be one of the favorites. They have a good, balanced, young team with a good goaltender."
Myself and Dmitry Malinovski, Sovetsky Sport's correspondent in Detroit, spoke with Datsyuk after the Red Wings' win over Columbus and their loss in Washington. This is a combination of those two discussions. As usual, Pavel discussed a variety of topics, including realignment, his wax statue and Halloween. Enjoy.
Q. When you played Washington you were the only two undefeated teams in the NHL. It must have been a test for you still?
DATSYUK: "Yes, of course it was a test for our team to play against a good, fast team. Unfortunately, we failed that test. But on the other side, it showed what we have to work on, it told us what kind of conclusions we have to draw. There is plenty of time. I wouldn't say that they beat us as convincingly as the score may suggest, but they capitalized on the opportunities they were given at the right time, especially on the power play. It was actually very entertaining for fans. But for us, there is plenty we have to work on. The more work there is ahead of us, the more my eyes sparkle!"
Niklas Lidstrom played his 1,500th career NHL game and you couldn't give him a present — a win, or at least help him score a goal.
"Of course, there is some bitter taste after games like this. We didn't play bad, but the scoreboard shows the score. And it's not just about special milestones, when you lose like that the effect stays. Nik was a bit upset. But we have to congratulate him on the achievement. It is a very big milestone. All I can do is remove my hockey helmet for him. He is such a great player and a great person. You can always rely on him and take him with you on spying missions."
But did you give Lidstrom a present for him 1,500th career NHL game?
"Yes, the score: 7-1. I am sure he will keep the score sheet."
Do the Red Wings feel the competition for fans now that the Lions are doing pretty well in the NFL?
"There is no competition. The situation in Detroit is very difficult due to the economic crisis. And I think all of the Detroit teams playing — the Red Wings, the Lions, the Tigers — we are all trying to cheer Detroit fans up, make them a little bit happier in these tough times. And sincere thanks to all the fans who come to our games, who find the time for us."
Your schedule in the beginning of the season was very light: You played five games in the first two weeks of the season.
"I think it's fine. It's not for nothing everyone keeps saying that we are an old team. We were just spared, we were given more time to rest. I wish it was like that all season."
Wouldn't you rather have these days off at the end of the season, or is it better to enter the playoffs at full speed?
"It is difficult to say. We take what we are given. It would be worse if we weren't given any days off at all, or in the middle of the season."
Tomas Holmstrom is no longer on your line. Do you miss him? No one steals your goals.
"I am always for him playing on our line. But we are soldiers and we are ready to play in any combination. Of course, we have been playing with Homer for a very long time, we are used to each other. We already miss each other. At least we play together on power plays, at least that's good."
"Well, next year maybe we will have a lockout. So, maybe I will have to work part time somewhere. I am trying to find myself, trying to find the best fit, the best profession for the lockout. It was important to get some experience. Some guys were finding themselves at tire places, and I always wanted to learn the back end of how coffee is prepared and served. I wouldn't say I made any coffee, but it was interesting to see how it's done. But seriously, it is a very tough job."
Halloween is just around the corner. Any plans to trick or treat with the team? Have you picked your costume yet?
"Actually, I don't have a costume yet. I am still shopping for one. We are definitely going to have something with the team, but I am not sure of the plans yet. I have one costume in mind — one of Jason from Friday the 13th."
Also not long ago you visited a local police training facility. Did you get to shoot an AK?
"No, they didn't have it. They only have some M-guns, handguns. It was interesting. We were told about their job. It is a very dangerous job. But I am not a really good shooter. I am more of a fisherman, not a hunter. I love fishing."
The discussions about the Red Wings switching conferences are continuing.
"On one hand, of course it would be great because we would reduce the number of miles we fly considerably. It would be interesting to try ourselves in a different conference. But until the chickens are hatched we can't really count them. So, people can discuss whatever they want. But nothing is certain at this point. I just hope we won't be realigned to the KHL."
Alex Ovechkin was presented with his own wax figure on Monday at Madame Tussaud's in Washington DC. Where would it be possible to see a statue of Pavel Datsyuk?
"I don't think you will see it anywhere. And if you do, it will probably be made of paper. Cardboard paper. I am a cardboard player."
The Red Wings will give away a few Fathead posters in the near future. They already have one such giveaway of small Jimmy Howard posters. Maybe there will be a paper full size Pavel Datsyuk.
"This is really interesting! I would actually like them to add me some height so I would appear more powerful. And I would also like to get me one of these. But it is really cool that our team cares about our fans and gives away presents like that."
The Red Wings, until the last couple of years, weren't known for doing a lot of community events.
"This is not the case. We always helped our community and held various events. Maybe it wasn't done so publically, maybe there weren't so many, but we always helped. Maybe it's just we weren't followed around by cameras. But as I mentioned, this is such a difficult time right now. And I am happy that we are more involved, we are happy to participate. We want to support the people, we want to surprise them.
"For example, we heard so many kind words that we made people's day when we were all over the city serving them. It was so great to see happy faces when I was serving people coffee."
- Pavel Datsyuk
- Washington Capitals