Pavel Valerievich Datsyuk was born July 20, 1978 in Sverdlovsk, USSR (now Yekaterinburg, Russia). His mother Galina Pavlovna (June 10, 1947 - January 24, 1994) worked for more than twenty years as the manager of the cafeteria in a munitions factory. His father Valeri Ignatevich (January 7, 1947 - May 15, 2005), worked as a delivery truck driver. Datsyuk also has an older sister, Larisa. 

Unfortunately, both Pavel and Larisa had to grow up early. In 1994, when Pavel was only sixteen years old, their mother passed away. Eleven years later his father suffered a heart attack and died, ironically while Pavel was heading home with a bronze medal from the Ice Hockey World Championships.

Little Pavel in the woods with his mother and sister.
This photo of Datsyuk's father could pass for a picture of Pavel himself.
Pavel was often a serious child.
Russian families make dumplings for the New Year's table. 
Young Pavel with two of his cousins.


Pavel Datsyuk was a quiet child, a little bit shy and not very fond of kindergarten food, as it could not compete with his mother's home cooking. He was a humble and obedient boy, so he generally avoided fights and any sort of conflict. This did not mean that he lacked a competitive spirit. Pavel began playing sports, especially football (soccer in America) at a very early age. The thing he enjoyed most about sports was the teamwork.

Pavel’s father did not play hockey, but he was an avid fan who enjoyed watching any game he could find on television. When Pavel was 5 years old, his father brought him to the hockey rink courtyard of their apartment complex and introduced him to a neighbor named Vladimir Sitnikov, known to the kids as Dadya (Uncle) Vova. Sitnikov was the volunteer coach who had put together a team of young boys from the apartment complex.

From that moment on, Pavel lost interest in toys, even the little cars and trucks that had been his favorites. All he really cared about was his hockey puck and stick. Each night the boys from the apartment would chase around the ice until dark. Whenever possible, their fathers were there to cheer them on.

Children need models rather than critics. Joseph Joubert

"Dadya Vova" could see the potential in little Pavel
At first, Pavel wore a pair of skates he had inherited from his sister, so he had to put up with shouts of "Figure Skater!" from some of the other kids. But he didn't care - he was playing hockey.
Dadya Vova's boys learned that they had to work before they could play. They had to scrape the ice clear of packed snow and sprinkle it with water before they could practice or play a game. Once they were on their skates they would play for hours in any kind of weather, completely ignoring frozen fingers and numb toes. Later, back in their apartments, they would listen to scolding from their mothers while they jumped and danced around trying to get some feeling back into their extremities. This never lasted too long, and the boys felt the game was well worth it.
After two years, the budding young hockey player was sent to the children's sports school "Yunost", where Dadya Vova turned him over to coaches Valeriy Golouhov and Eduard Zbryzhinskiy.
To get from his apartment to the hockey school young Pavel would have to take the train across the city, with two transfers. The trip was often cold and dark, with Pavel carrying a heavy hockey bag between trains. He took the Number 10 train and then the Number 13 train. He liked the second train best, which is why he wears the number 13 to this day.

Hockey School Yunost soon became the center of young Pavel’s life, his second school - even though he liked Yunost better than his academic school. He had to grow up quickly, with workouts or games almost daily during the school year. Each summer he spent two months away from his home and family at the Orlenok hockey camp, honing his skills and learning the game.

Before long, the all the effort and training began to pay off, as young Pavel and his teammates began to participate in and win tournaments. First in Yekaterinburg then throughout the region. This was their first taste of victory, and they liked it.

Dare to err and to dream. Deep meaning often lies in childish plays.Friedrich Shiller

Young Datsyuk's sense of humor was popular in the locker room.
There are few things more fun than playing hockey outdoors.

The wildest colts make the best horses, but they need to be raised and trained very well. Plutarch

In 1996, 18 year-old Pavel began his professional hockey career, moving from Yunost to play on Yekaterinburg's CKA and later for Dynamo-Energiya in the Russian Premier League. He almost immediately achieved success, helping his team to win the Championship of Russia in his first season. This victory was topped with another coming-of-age experience when he received his first real paycheck as a hockey player. He spent the money from that first check on a color television. 

The 1996 Dynamo Energiya team. Not too many paychecks after the television came a new stereo…
Over the next three years playing with Dynamo, Pavel began to stand out. So much so that other teams began regularly assigning players to "shadow" him, trying to shut down his game. Even so, he managed to stay productive on the ice until a fateful game in 1998 when a hard hit (he was in a vulnerable position) resulted in a serious knee injury.
Despite almost immediate surgery, his rehabilitation period was difficult and not entirely successful. He was afraid that his hockey career was over. Fortunately, this dark period did not last long. The knee healed, and at the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, Pavel's contract was sold to AK Bars Kazan in the Russian Elite League 

Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result. Winston Churchill

The move to AK Bars was Pavel's first real step up the ladder as a professional athlete. In 1998 he had been selected in the sixth round of the NHL Draft by the Detroit Red Wings, 171st overall. Days later when Pavel first heard the news, he thought someone was playing a joke on him. Later, a newspaper reporter said to him “It must be unbelievable luck to be drafted by the NHL team.” In response Pavel quoted the great golfer Lee Trevino, who after making a nearly miraculous golf shot and being asked if he was always that lucky said,
Yes. And the more I practice, the luckier I get.

In the summer of 1999 Pavel traveled to Traverse City, Michigan for a 10-day Red Wings' developmental training camp. The Red Wings coaches liked his skating and puck handling skills, but they felt that Pavel was still too small and light to survive in the NHL. They sent him back to Russia to grow bigger and stronger and to work on his conditioning.

After one season with AK Bars, Pavel headed back to Detroit to stay. 
The only way a man can remain consistent amid changing circumstances is to change with them. Winston Churchill

Career in the NHL

His first days at the Red Wings training camp were not especially promising for Pavel. He was a sixth-round draft pick, and still a bit on the small side. Players selected in earlier rounds were expected to be better and they were given more attention by the coaches. Still, Pavel saw the opportunity to train and play alongside some of the best hockey players in the world, and he grabbed it. After five games with the Red Wings' major minor team and a week of exhibition games with the Red Wings, Pavel was told to go ahead and get an apartment in Detroit. It just doesn't get any better for a 6th round draft pick.
Successes is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

Pavel was fortunate to join a team with many great players who were willing to share their experience with a young Russian who was eager to learn. The legendary Russian star Igor Larionov took Pavel under his wing and helped him deal with his new life both on and off the ice. Veteran superstar Brett Hull also helped with Pavel’s game. 

Pavel soon found himself centering a line between Hull, one of the NHL's all-time best scoring forwards, and another promising rookie named Boyd Devereaux. Pavel's first regular season in the NHL was a good one. He scored 11 goals and had 24 assists in the 70 games he played. The league got their first look at his brilliantly creative moves and pinpoint passing, along with a relentless defensive discipline. 

At the end of the 2001-2002 regular season the star-laden Red Wings headed into the playoffs a heavy favorite to win their third Stanley Cup in 6 years, and they did not disappoint. Young Datsyuk contributed to the cause, scoring 3 goals and 3 assists during the playoffs, and at the end of his first year in the NHL he got to do something that most players never get to do in their entire careers - hoist the Stanley Cup. 

You create your own universe as you go along. Winston Churchill

The Stanley Cup makes its first visit to Yekaterinburg.

During the 2004-2005 NHL Lockout, Pavel returned to Russia to play for the Moscow Dynamo in the KHL. With the Dynamo he won the Champion of Russia and the Bronze Medal in the World Hockey Championship.

Over the next few years, as he matured and grew into his role as a star in the NHL, Pavel became acknowledged as one of the league's most skilled and popular players. True to his youth he still wears the number 13, and he has acquired nicknames like "Pavs," "Dats," "Moves," and "Magic Man." His skating can leave defenders lunging at thin air. Detroit sportscasters coined the phrase "Datsyukian Deke" to describe his puck handling skills that seem to defy the laws of physics.

Pavel has consistently reacted to all this praise with humility and humor. Everyone who knows him understands him to be modest, intelligent, deep and complex. Somehow this humble man from the Russian heartland seems completely comfortable with his superstar status in world hockey. He's fond of telling journalists that he is just doing his job, saying:
No need to be important, it is important to be needed.

Datsyuk with some of his hard-won trophies.
Open sesame!
To win, ready to stand on his head.
Hockey unites continents – Pavel Datsyuk shares the stage with US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Pavel has shown himself to be an exceptional person. His deadpan sense of humor, his strong philosophical outlook, and, of course, his hockey intelligence are legendary. As much as he is willing or even eager to participate in dramatic conflict on the ice, in his personal life he remains a quiet, modest, self-sufficient person. He enjoys modern literature, philosophy, and movies. He also plays football (soccer in the US), tennis, volleyball and billiards. Of course, as a true Uralets, he loves the outdoors, especially fishing with family and friends.

While he has a deep fondness and respect for Detroit, the city that launched him into his professional career, deep in his heart and soul he remains faithful to his hometown - Yekaterinburg. For this reason Pavel spends nine months in the U.S. and 3 months in his summer house in Russia, finding just the right balance between professional sports and relaxation.

On vacation, you can afford a little extra.
Tea is not vodka,  can drink a lot only in great company!  
Here it is, the fish of Datsyuk's dreams.
Datsyuk's view of adoring fans.

Honoring the memory of everyone who helped him as a child, Pavel has become a great supporter of children's sports. In 2006 he founded a youth hockey camp Kurganovo near Yekaterinburg where promising young athletes can get training from some of the most talented hockey masters in the world. Every year young players from all over Russia come to the camp and train under the leadership of North American and European coaches - and, of course, Pavel himself. To quote an old Russian saying,
Do good and throw it in the water,
meaning that good deeds speak for themselves and don't need credit.

Datsyuk with his young hockey stars of the future.

In the spring of 2012, Pavel won a Gold Medal at the Hockey World Championship as a member of the Russian National team. 

During the 2012 NHL lockout, Pavel played for HC CSKA Moscow in the KHL. During this time he played in the KHL All-Star game in Chelyabinsk. When the lockout ended, the Detroit Red Wings were happy to get one of their key players back.

On January 29, 2013 in the game against the Dallas Stars Pavel scored the 1000th point in his career and his 820th point in the NHL. On June 18, 2013, with one year left on his contract, Detroit signed him to a three year contract extension.

Today Pavel Datsyuk continues his career in the National Hockey League, playing an important role on the Detroit Red Wings, one of the strongest teams in the world. He feels that this is giving him the opportunity to reach his full potential as a player, and to contribute significantly to both his team and the sport of hockey. 

While Pavel has shown himself to be a consummate professional hockey player, he really plays for the sheer love of the game. As Confucius said, "Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life."

Datsyuk's heart is in Russia.
Datsyuk even triumphs over mountains.
Beginning of a new 2013-2014 season.

Awards and achievements