“Remember, kid. Heroes get remembered. But legends never die.”
So says an imaginary Babe Ruth to Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez in 1993’s The Sandlot. Ruth is encouraging Benny to seize his chance at greatness and make a difference, in this case, by retrieving a lost Ruth-signed baseball from a neighbor’s yard. The rest is history.
Heroes will always be remembered for the wins, the stats, the rings. But legends live on forever in the hearts of fans for what they represented- the pinnacle of greatness, the height of achievement. Legends are the personification of a team, a fanbase, a city.
In Detroit, we’ve had the fortune of seeing several prolific athletes over the years. Players like Isiah Thompson, Ty Cobb, Barry Sanders, and more recently, Calvin Johnson and Miguel Cabrera. But perhaps no team can claim such storied alumni as the Red Wings. Just take a look up at the rafters in the Joe. Names like Yzerman, Lidstrom, Howe. Legends, indeed.
Does Pavel Datsyuk deserve a place among them?
In mid-June, after months of speculation, it became official that Datsyuk was retiring from the Red Wings after 14 seasons. It had been rumored for awhile that Datsyuk was seeking to finally return to Russia to spend time with his family and play one last season or two back home with his countrymen. The news was particularly devastating to Red Wings fans, not just because the team was losing one of the most creative offensive players of all time, but because Datsyuk’s contract still had a year remaining, crippling the Wing’s checkbook.
Although the Wings were able to get out of that financial mess via trade, it soured several fans on Datsyuk. But in this city, forever and always, Datsyuk is a legend. And while it will be awhile before the dust settles on his retirement and his NHL career, his accolades speak for themselves.
314 goals. 604 assists. 918 points.
Assistant captain for the Red Wings, captain for the 2014 Russian Olympic Team.
Three time NHL All-Star, three time Selke Trophy winner for best defensive forward, four time Lady Byng Trophy winner for most sportsmanlike and gentlemanly player.
Two time Stanley Cup Champion.
Picking a favorite Datsyuk highlight is like picking a favorite kid— Winging It In Motown (@wingingitmotown) June 18, 2016
Of course you've got one, but it's unfair to the rest to say which one