Last week, rumors began coming out that Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk was thinking about leaving the Red Wings after the season to play in his home country, Russia, for the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
On Friday morning, the Detroit Free Press reported that Datsyuk told the newspaper he would be leaving the team after the playoffs are over.
"I'm thinking I go home after this season," he told the Free Press. "I may not be done with hockey, but - it is hard to say - I think I am done playing in the NHL."
The 37-year-old spoke to the Free Press on the condition that the story did not run until after the regular season was over. Detroit played the final game of the regular season on Saturday afternoon.
Before Wednesday's final home game of the regular season, the Red Wings honored Datsyuk for 300 career assists. Fans began chanting "one more year," during the ceremony.
Datsyuk told the Free Press "it was a very tearful moment," and said if the national anthem didn't start playing, he would have had tears in his eyes.
In June 2013, Datsyuk signed a 3-year contract extension that would have kept him with the team through the 2016-2017 season.
Even though he is leaving with one year left on his contract, he is leaving Detroit with a $7.5 million hit against the salary cap, under the terms of the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement. He told the Free Press he feels bad about it and wished he would have done a year-by-year contract.
Datsyuk was drafted by Detroit in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL Draft. His NHL career began in 2001, and in 953 career games, he was 314 goals, 604 assists for a total of 918 points.