Like Pavel Datsyuk, David Krejci plans to eventually move home. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)
Pavel Datsyuk rocked the hockey world over the weekend by confirming that he will leave the Red Wings and the NHL after the playoffs.
The 37-year-old Datsyuk has chosen to go back to Russia for family reasons; he will play in the KHL so he can be reunited with his teenage daughter. The three-time Selke winner’s decision will hurt the Red Wings in more ways than just his absence, however, as his $7.5 million cap hit will still count against the team’s salary cap figure next season because his contract began when he was over 35 years old.
David Krejci understands Datsyuk’s decision, as he does not plan to finish his career in the NHL either. Krejci, who has just concluded the first season of a six-year, $43.5 million contract, plans to go back to his native country of the Czech Republic after his deal expires.
“That’s where I grew up. That’s where I learned how to skate, and from a family standpoint, I’m the only guy here,” Krejci told WEEI.com Monday. “Now, I created my own family — they’re American — but it would be nice to show my kid, or kids in five, six years, where I’m from. By the time [my deal expires], I’ll be 35. If I have one more NHL season in me, then I would play, but no matter when or how, if I’ll be 36 or 38 or 39, I want to finish my career back home.”
If Krejci were to leave early, the Bruins would not be charged with his cap hit, but that figures to be a moot point given that Krejci says he intends to play out his contract. As such, Krejci’s eventual departure will be far less controversial than Datsyuk’s.
“I respect his decision,” Krejci said. “He’s been here a long time, and I heard that he’s got a teenage daughter living back home. Now I have a daughter of my own, so I know how hard it must be to be away. It’s not like he’s in his 20s or something; he’s in his late 30s, so sometimes you have to know there’s a time.
“I’m pretty sure no matter how old you are, family is the most important thing, but when you get older you kind of realize it a little bit, you appreciate spending time with your family more than if you’re a teenager or in your 20s. [Then], you just want to be with your buddies and having fun, but when you have kids, you always pick your family over going out with your buddies or going golfing with your buddies. I respect his decision.”