In Russia, groin hurts you, apparently.
Datsyuk is set to captain the Russian squad in Sochi, but he only returned to the Red Wings on Thursday after missing 14 games with the injury. He played two games before the Olympic break, averaging a little over 14 minutes per game and tallying an assist.
Russian head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said a decision would be made prior to Wednesday’s roster deadline, with an evaluation set for Monday.
“When Datsyuk arrives, we will talk and make a decision,” Bilyaletdinov said. “Tomorrow is only the 10th and everything is possible.”
If Datsyuk can’t go, it would force Russia to make a third injury-related change to its roster. Carolina Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin, who was a newsworthy omission from the Russian squad in the first place, got the call to replace injured Dynamo Moscow forward Sergei Soin, while AK Bars Kazan centre and former top-three NHL draft pick Alexander Svitov joined the Russians after Dynamo Moscow’s Denis Kokarev was injured.
However, losing Datsyuk would be a much bigger blow to the host country. While the Russians have prodigious talents in Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, Datsyuk commands just as much attention on the ice with his elusive nature on the ice.
Ovechkin and Malkin are premier talents who can power their way around the ice with size and strength, but Datsyuk’s vision and ability to make others around him better at both ends of the ice sets him apart.
You can bet the Sverdlovsk native will do everything he can to show the Russian coaching staff he will be ready to go. Sochi would be Datsyuk’s fourth Olympic Games representing Russia, though there’s nothing like representing the host country.
In addition, he’s 35 years old now, so he may not get another shot at the Olympics, and he certainly won’t get another chance at home.