The Selke Trophy has been given out to the NHL's top defensive forward since 1978, and had rarely been given to players who are perhaps better known for their offense. Perhaps only Doug Gilmour,
Sergei Fedorov, Ron Francis and Steve Yzerman fit that description, until Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings joined that exclusive group last season.
"I think he's one of the best all-around players in the League," said Yzerman, the former Detroit captain who is now a vice president/alternate governor with the Red Wings.
"He's so good with his stick. Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux had that ability to come up behind you, lift your stick and take the puck. Pav's as good as those guys at doing that."
"He's quiet, but I don't see that as negative. That's just his personality. That's just Pavel." said Yzerman.
We think you'll agree that Datsyuk has much to offer as one of the NHL's true superstar characters when you dive into Part Two of our chat, which covers the inevitable comparisons to other NHL stars; whether there's any way Russia can lose the gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics; whether he'd accept
Sean Avery as a teammate now; mocking Chris Chelios's age; why he's infamous for his cell phone ringtones; and the usual Puck Daddy inquiries about adult beverages, fast cars and the true joys of playing hockey. Enjoy.
But I won't lie that it is very nice to hear these things. And it doesn't matter if I am compared to Sidney Crosby or another player.
I actually don't share this view. For me, even if you only take Chicago players, I prefer
Jonathan Toews more. But that's just my opinion. Some questions about you, Pavel. You once interrupted an interview with a James Brown cell phone ringtone. How did you become a James Brown fan and what is your current ringtone?
Right now my ringtone is one of
Yuri Antonov's songs. I have a lot of different ringtones actually. I set unique ringtones to people who call me often. For example, I have a friend in Detroit who is a businessman. And the ringtone I have for him is ABBA's "Money, Money." When I hear certain ringtones I know exactly who is calling me. Surely you have a lot of NHL players in your phone book. What's your ringtone for Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals?
He doesn't call me often. I don't really have a lot of players who call me. It's mostly my friends.
So, what's the story with James Brown's ringtone? What song was it?
"I feel good ta-da-da-da-da-da-da..." It was just my standard ringtone at the time. What's on your iPod?
My iPod is such a chaos. I have everything there from Russian Shanson to pop, from rock-n-roll to club music. There is anything you want there. I mostly listen to
Zveri [a Russian band] lately. The last terrible movie you've seen is ...?
I cannot tell you about the last terrible movie I saw, but the last best movie I saw was
"Stilyagi" [a Russian movie about Jazz fans in the Soviet Union].
A lot of people didn't like that movie, but I did. I just like musicals.
What exactly does one receive for winning a Selke Trophy, and where do you keep it?
You get a miniature copy of the trophy and a minute of fame that you have to use to come up on stage and say something. I keep it at home.
You received a big laugh from the crowd at the NHL Awards last summer. Do you consider yourself a locker room joker?
Whenever I step out on stage, you can start laughing. I can't even remember what was so funny.
As for me being a joker? What are you talking about? I am a serious grown up man, over 30 already.
How is the main locker room joker then?
It has to be Thomas Holmstrom. He is the funniest one.
What's the best joke you've made, or heard, about Chris Chelios's age?
I am trying to remember one right now. I don't think it's a joke, but Chelios missed the team meeting yesterday. Maybe he forgot.
But seriously, he is an awesome guy, a man, a grandpa. [joking]
Do you consider yourself a veteran?
Well, in the NHL anyone over 30 is considered a veteran. So, I must be one. But I have a long way to go until 47 like Chelios. Would I play until that age? I can't say. It all depends on health and willingness to play.
Have you forgiven the United States for stealing Russia's gold medal in the 1980 Olympics?
I don't have the status giving me the right to forgive anything. But I hear a lot of jokes about that win here. And not-jokes.
About the Olympics for a moment: Is there any way Russia isn't winning the gold medal in 2010?
You have to consider the fact that there are other teams in the tournament. And I have to give a special mention to Canadian fans. Canadians are crazy about hockey and will seriously support their team and will become the sixth man on the ice for Team Canada.
Is this your dream to go to Vancouver?
We fly to Vancouver twice a year. So, going to Vancouver is not a dream.
But to participate in the Olympics and to win - that's the dream.
Other than your teammates, is there a player in the NHL that you'd love to have as a linemate?
Think, my head, think! [Datsyuk is talking to himself] I would still like to have Zetterberg on the same line... But if you insist that it has to be someone else, my line would include
Joe Thornton and Viktor Kozlov. Now you have to put a ringtone on Ovechkin. He will definitely call you now.
Would you ever accept Sean Avery as a teammate?
He already played here in Detroit. A shell won't fall in the same crater twice. He played here until he was traded to Los Angeles. And then the Kings traded him to the Rangers.
Was he as scandalous then as he is now?
I remember that he talked a lot. I didn't understand English much back then. Back then I was working on my French.
In Russia your nickname was 'Spiderman' because of your stick handling skills [Datsyuk with a puck is like a Spiderman building his web]. Is it still the same here?
I don't really know. Maybe someone came up with one for me that I don't know? But I really liked that 'Spiderman' nickname.
What's your nickname in Detroit? Simply 'Dats'?
Yes, Dats is one of them. Now also 'Pasha' is very popular.
But I don't really have a special nickname like 'Tough Guy' or something.
Your beer or adult beverage of choice, sir?
I like draft Warsteiner if you're talking about beer. And my adult beverage of choice is whiskey with soda.
Do you watch your own goals on the Internet? And what is the most memorable goal you've ever scored?
I don't really watch my own goals on the Internet. And the most memorable goal? I really want to mention a goal in overtime, but I haven't really scored many. I have to say my third goal in our playoff game against Dallas. It was my first hat trick. And it just happened to be in the playoffs. Zetterberg went past two or three players and then passed the puck to me and I one-timed it.
But then it seems that Zetterberg did all the work.
But I finished! No one remembers those Zetterberg's moves right now, but everyone knows it was my hat trick.
I personally really like the goal you scored at the World Championships in Vienna, when Russia were playing Finland and you scored a shorthanded goal.
Yes, it was nice. Datsyuk shorthanded, picks the puck, shields it, beautiful, shoots, it is flying towards the goal, and... And then I wake up.
Do you have any interests other than hockey?
If you are talking about sports, then it's original 12-foot Russian billiard and tennis. But in general I enjoy reading books.
Interesting, because a lot of players I have spoken to say that reading books is not for them.
Well, I am a veteran now! It's all very interesting for me, so I started reading a lot of books.
What's your favorite book?
It's Mikhail Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita." It's probably going to be hard for North American fans to understand because it's a Russian classic now. But from the most recent books I have read I really like Robin Sharma's "The Saint, the Surfer and the CEO." It's a really great book. I recommend it to everyone.
What are you driving these days? What do you wish you could drive? What's the fastest you've ever driven?
Don't touch my dream with your dirty hands.
There are a lot of cars. There is a dream car. But it is not a goal. It is a Maybach. This is my dream. But it is not a goal for me to make enough to buy this car. Let this dream be just that -- a dream.
As for the fastest speed? You know, once back in Kazan I was driving about 40 km per hour and the road was icy, I started breaking and my car started skidding and it almost caused an accident. At that time that 40 km per hour seemed like such a great speed that I don't feel like driving fast. Right now I have an MB G class, a nostalgia [Mercedes G class are popular in Russia] and a BMW X5.
Finally, what do you enjoy most about hockey?
I enjoy the passing game the most, when you don't just take the puck, dump it and then chase it, but when you have this understanding with your partners on the ice and create a great move... Just like the old style Soviet hockey. It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen.
(Ed. Note: For those new to Dmitry's interviews, they are conducted in Russian and then translated by Dmitry into English for the blog.)