Pavel Datsyuk believes the number of creative players in the NHL is in decline as teams play more systems based hockey.
Speaking to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the former Detroit Red Wing said “There are not many creative players now,” adding “It’s less and less every year. There’s lots of talent, but teams are playing more systems.”
Datsyuk ‘retired’ from the NHL this summer after 14-seasons with the Red Wings, opting to return to Russia to be closer to family. He would go on to sign with SKA St. Petersburg, where he has four goals and seven points in six games playing along side Ilya Kovalchuk for the KHL side this season.
“Hockey is so different now,” Datsyuk told Mackey. “With the new rules in the NHL, you have to be good defensively. And, if you play fast, you have more time to work offensively.”
Drafted in the sixth round (171st overall) in 1998, Datsyuk won three straight Selke Trophies as the NHL’s best defensive forward as well as two Stanley Cups during his time with the Red Wings, amassing 314 goals and 918 points in 953 career NHL games.
The veteran forward is currently preparing for the World Cup of Hockey, where he will represent Team Russia in what seems likely to be his last appearance on North American soil.
“You never know when it might be your last game,” he said. “But it will be good to come back and touch base with NHL fans.”
Russia will face Finland, Sweden and Team North America in the group stage of the competition.