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Datsyuk attending all-star weekend – is he on NHL's list of greatest players?

Pavel Datsyuk has never been all that keen on the All-Star Game, skipping the event and dealing with a suspension for doing so in 2008-09. This year, though, Datsyuk’s making the trip all the way from Russia to be in attendance for the festivities.

Pavel Datsyuk’s playing days in the NHL came to an end this past off-season as he decided to depart North America to return to his native Russia and participate in the KHL as his career winds down. However, with the league getting set to assemble some of its brightest stars for all-star weekend, it appears Datsyuk will be making a brief return.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Tuesday that there were rumblings Datsyuk would be making his way to Los Angeles for the festivities leading up to Sunday’s All-Star Game, and it was publicly confirmed to Friedman via Twitter by Datsyuk’s agent Dan Milstein that Datsyuk will, indeed, be making his way to North America for all-star weekend.

Guess that means Mike Smith technically won’t be the only Arizona Coyote making his way to Los Angeles for the celebrations.

Despite the confirmation that Datsyuk will be in attendance, there’s no specifics on why exactly he’s making the trip all the way from Russia for the weekend’s events and why he’s doing so right in the midst of the KHL campaign. With Datsyuk making his way to Los Angeles, St. Petersburg will potentially be without their captain for both their Jan. 27 and Jan. 29 games.

That said, it could make sense were he making the trip over as part of the celebration of the league’s 100 Greatest Players, a list which Datsyuk could very well be on.

Throughout the buildup to the naming of the list of the 100 Greatest Players, it has been mentioned on several occasions that there are six current NHL stars on the list, with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and, of course, Jaromir Jagr to be virtual locks to make the list. There’s also a good chance the Chicago Blackhawks’ duo of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane find their way onto the list as multiple Stanley Cup champions, Conn Smythe winners and the faces of the rebirth of an ‘Original Six’ franchise. That leaves room for a sixth player, too, but it still says nothing of recently retired players or players who have, say, left for the KHL.

Datsyuk certainly has some of the credentials one might think necessary to make it onto the list. During his tenure in the NHL, he was one of the great two-way forwards the league has ever seen, finishing as a finalist for the Selke Trophy six times in his career, taking home the award on three separate occasions. He also won the Lady Byng Trophy four times, and earned himself a Hart Trophy finalist nod with a 32-goal, 97-point performance in 2008-09. Over the course of his career, he notched 314 goals and 918 points in 953 games.

He was just as stellar a post-season performer, too, with 42 goals and 113 points in 157 games, winning two Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings. The first came as a bottom-six role player before becoming one of the on-ice leaders during the second Cup run in Detroit.

Whether that’s top-100 all-time calibre or not, no one can know quite yet, but one would think it has to be awfully important to Datsyuk in order for him to miss a couple of regular season games in order to attend the all-star weekend.

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