The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/18/11 at 02:57 PM ET
Very cool news from the Hockey News’s Rory Boylen: Boylen’s covering Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk’s annual summer hockey camp in his hometown of Ekaterinburg, Russia this week, and if Boylen’s first missive from the camp is any indication, he’ll be providing us more than just a welcome distraction from the imminent Chris Osgood/Kris Draper-paying-future-drama-in-progress* stuff:
For the fourth year, the PD13 Hockey School will be hosted by No. 13 on the Red Wings and run by a collection of instructors with various backgrounds in the sport. You’ll meet them all in this space at some point during the week as we follow the inner-workings at the kids’ camp for players aged eight to 12 that runs Monday to Friday. We’ll also give you an inside peek at Pavel Datsyuk the person, but for now, how in the heck did this North American-designed camp sprout up so far from home?
It all started on a Detroit Red Wings plane trip a few years ago when Datsyuk approached Jay Woodcroft, then a coach with the Wings and currently an assistant with the San Jose Sharks. Datsyuk knew of a hockey camp Jay and his brother, Todd (an L.A. Kings scout), ran in Belarus and wanted to take that approach in his hometown to give something back to the community.
“He wanted to expose the kids in Ekaterinburg to a different style of coaching, to the North American style,” Jay Woodcroft said.
That North American style is all about fun and a positive attitude. It’s not something common in these circles, so it provides a unique experience for the kids. A lot of them are making repeat appearances and the glow in their faces as they arrived, recognized and ran up to greet their North American instructors tells you all you need to know about the impact this experience has had on them. It’s a reaction Datsyuk is proud to have helped create.
The area itself reminds you of cottage country, with its rough roads, lakes, pines and secluded lifestyle, but it’s a whole other world out here, a whole other continent on the eastern slope of the Ural mountain range. On the drive out from town to the complex, you pass a large marker that represents the end of Europe and the beginning of Asia. But it wasn’t always like that. Year 1 of the school was held here when a single aged arena stood with a “Soviet-style training camp feel” to it. For Year 2, the school was moved downtown. But because of Datsyuk, his supporters and a little input from Jay and Todd at the conclusion of that second year, the Kurganovo area was transformed into a modern complex in shockingly fast fashion in time for Year 3.
And it was all made possible by Datsyuk. Ask anyone here about him and you’ll quickly get an idea of his selfless, down-to-earth nature. He doesn’t seek to be treated like an NHL superstar - on the contrary, he just wants to be one of the guys. Which he is, making the experience not just special for the kids, but enlightening for the instructors as well.
“Just a couple months ago Pav was at a Bass Pro Shop in Detroit and he saw some kid there who looked like me,” said T.J. Aubrecht, a former American high school varsity player who also played a year with the Minnesota Junior League’s Hudson Crusaders. He asked the kid if he could take a picture with him and sent it to me with the caption ‘I didn’t know you were working at the Pro Bass Shop in Detroit.’ That was pretty cool for me because I didn’t expect him to be thinking about me throughout the year. I’ll remember that for a while.”
As those of us who are more familiar with Pavel know, that’s not a surprise at all…
Datsyuk also received due praise from NHL.com’s John Kreiser for being a takeaway maestro...
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit And I suppose it merits mentioning that SKA St. Petersburg has chosen not to bring back Alexei Yashin, making him, as Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien notes, the latest low-risk, moderate-reward NHL veteran who’s returning from Europe to hit the market. I don’t think the Wings are interested in a relatively soft player who can probably realistically put up 50 points, but he’s out there. Otherwise, today’s crop of Red Wings-related news is pretty thin, including DetroitRedWings.com’s Todd Beam confirming that Justin Abdelkader will fly with the Blue AngelsScott Lewis pondering the playing futures of Teemu Selanne and one Mike Modano, and… In another loss for the blogging world, Winging it in Motown’s Casey Richey has chosen to step down from his post, which is a big bummer.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.