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Red Wings re-sign star centre Pavel Datsyuk to seven-year deal

The Canadian Press
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Detroit Red Wings\' Pavel Datsyuk of Russia looks for a teammate during the third period of their NHL hockey game against Chicago Blackhawks on in this Feb. 21, 2007 file photo, in Detroit. (AP/Jerry S. Mendoza) Author: The Hockey News

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Red Wings re-sign star centre Pavel Datsyuk to seven-year deal

The Canadian Press
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Datsyuk, earning $3.9 million this season, leads the Wings with 27 goals and 60 assists in 78 games and would have been eligible for free agency in the summer.

Instead, he will remain Detroit's first-line pivot for years to come and earn an average of $6.7 million per season.

"Pavel really wanted to commit here for his career," general manager Ken Holland said of the longest contract extension in team history. "In the end we felt very comfortable with a long-term commitment to Pavel."

Datsyuk, 28, led the Red Wings in scoring last season with 28 goals and 59 assists. He also won the Lady Byng Trophy as the league's most gentlemanly player and represented Russia at the Olympics.

More importantly, he gave the Red Wings another dominant offensive presence on the top line reminiscent of the retired Steve Yzerman and departed Sergei Fedorov.

"Everyone in the organization wanted him to stay with us," said team owner Mike Ilitch.

Ilitch singled out Yzerman for his insistence that the Red Wings' management retain Datsyuk.

"We felt it was extremely important to lock this player up for as long as we can," Yzerman said.

Datsyuk's play has helped keep the Red Wings among the league's elite despite the recent turnover in its star-laden roster.

The Wings clinched their sixth straight Central Division earlier this week and one more point will secure its third consecutive Western Conference title, the first of the post-Yzerman era.

"This contract was extremely important to me," Datsyuk said. "Especially since I have been a Red Wing since 2001."

Datsyuk won the Stanley Cup during his rookie season in 2001-02 and broke out in 2003-04, when he set a career-high with 30 goals.

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Red Wings re-sign star centre Pavel Datsyuk to seven-year deal