Pavel Datsyuk could do just about everything. Sure, he wasn’t the most physical player, and he rarely laid a huge hit, but he made up for what he lacked in that department with his silky mitts and great plays.
In the modern era of the NHL, few players were as technically gifted as Pavel Datsyuk.
Sometimes, it was like he was seeing things on the ice two or three steps ahead of anyone else.
He could do the most unexpected things when his team needed it the most, and it was not for nothing that he earned the nickname ”The Magic Man.”
Datsyuk played with the Detroit Red Wings from 2001 to 2016, and one year after, while still playing in the KHL, he was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history.
Datsyuk won the Stanley Cup two times, in 2002 and 2008, and also won the Frank Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward in 2008, 2009, and 2010. He also won four consecutive Lady Byng Trophies and the Hart as MVP following the 2008-09 season.
It was unique for someone to display such great defensive play together with incredible stickhandling and creativity.
Datsyuk was truly special, but it wasn’t obvious that he would be the NHL superstar he later grew up to be when playing in Russia as a young kid. Detroit Red Wings scout Håkan Andersson saw Datsyuk play in the summer of 1997-98.
By the third time he was going to see him play, a scout from the Calgary Flames was scheduled to fly on the plane as well.
But a storm caused the flight to be canceled, and as a result, Andersson was the only NHL scout to have seen Datsyuk play prior to the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, where the Red Wings drafted him 171st overall.
Datsyuk played his first NHL games in 2001, and it was an immediate success. He scored 35 points in 70 games, and already in his first year in the big league, he showcased some of the incredible things he could do.
On Wednesday, a clip was posted on Reddit, showing some rare footage of that Datsyuk rookie season. It was absolutely incredible to see how skilled Datsyuk was, and it was definitely a sign of what was to come.
The comment section was filled with praise for The Magic Man, with everyone saying the same thing: What a pick it was from the Red Wings.
”I’m amazed no one wanted to draft him, but he was obviously immediately a dominant player,” one said.
”Pavel had some filthy mitts,” another added.
”So glad I witnessed his entire career,” a third added.