By Ashley Dunkak
JOE LOUIS ARENA (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk paused to give media members an update on his condition after Wednesday’s morning skate in preparation for the evening’s game against Chicago.
“I can skate much better,” Datsyuk said. “Not today for sure. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Hard to say.”
“Feel better every day, but can’t say anything more,” Datsyuk added.
If Datsyuk seemed uncertain about returning to the Red Wings, he seemed totally confident he will be able to go for Russia in the Olympics, which begin Friday, Feb. 7.
“For sure,” Datsyuk said. “100 percent.”
Datsyuk is one of 10 Wings who will be playing for an Olympic team this year. Daniel Alfredsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Johan Franzen, Jonas Gustavsson, Jimmy Howard, Tomas Jurco, Niklas Kronwall, Tomas Tatar and Henrik Zetterberg were also selected to represent their countries in Sochi, Russia.
Along with Alfredsson, Ericsson, Franzen and Gustavsson, Datsyuk is also one of five Detroit players going to the Olympics who are currently out with injuries.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, to whom the Wings lost the conference semifinals last May, will also send 10 players to Sochi.
Michael Handzus, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marian Hossa (who spent the 2008-2009 season with Detroit), Patrick Kane, Duncan Keither, Marcus Kruger, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews will be joining all those Red Wings in Sochi.
Along with St. Louis, Detroit and Chicago have the most Olympians of any NHL team this season, and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said the two-week experience should be a renewing one for players.
“I think when you go to the Olympics you come back energized,” Babcock said. “I don’t buy into the theory you come back worn. I don’t buy that at all. I think it’s an energizing event. You get to play with the best players in the world in the most spectacular event I think there is in sports.”
The number of Red Wings and Blackhawks on those rosters demonstrates that even with Datsyuk out of commission for Wednesday’s rivalry game, there will still be plenty of talent out on the ice.
Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp are among the top 10 in the NHL in points scored this season, and Jonathan Toews is 15th. In the Olympics, Toews will be a captain for Team Canada, which will be coached by Babcock.
“I never gave it to him – he earned the right to be a captain with Canada,” Babcock said. “He’s won two Cups, he’s won an Olympic gold, he’s won a World Junior, I don’t know what else he’s won, to tell you the truth. He might have won more than that. He’s a pro who does it right every day.”