National Hockey League fans - or any sports fan for that matter - loves a good comeback story. When NHL legend Mario Legend hung up the skates the first time back in 1997, it was a big loss for the game. When he returned in December 2000, it was a huge story. Lemieux proved that his scoring touch had not disappeared by scoring a goal and three points, including an assist 33 seconds into the first shift of his return.
A slightly different story could take place next season, if former NHL forward Ilya Kovalchuk does decide to return to the league and rekindle his love for hockey in America. The Russian sniper has recently admitted that he wants to return to the league this summer and play there for “several more years.” Kovalchuk even told Russian state sports channel Match TV that if he doesn’t try again to win a Stanley Cup, “I won’t forgive myself for it when I get older.” He is even looking to match Russian teammate Pavel Datsyuk as a member of the so-called triple gold club of players who have won the Olympic gold medal, world championship, and Stanley Cup.
Speaking of Datsyuk, he is now the star of this comeback story. Back in the summer of 2016, Datsyuk announced that he was leaving the Detroit Red Wings, with a year left on his contract, saying it was time to go back home and play in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League. Since, he has been an important member of SKA St. Petersburg.
However, in his latest 31 Thoughts column on Sportsnet, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reveals that there seemed to be an ongoing rumour that Datsyuk was looking to return in the NHL.
Datsyuk had 49 points, ranking second on the Red Wings, in 66 games during his last regular season in the NHL. The idea of any team signing Datysuk to a contract in a comeback for the ages would be remarkable. A deal with Detroit would be unbelievable. However, Friedman not only revealed that rumour, but also had proof of a close source denying the chatter.
"There were some wild rumours that Pavel Datsyuk is coming back to Detroit for 2018-19. Dan Milstein, his agent, says that is not true."
Let's dream a little longer...