In 953 NHL games with the Detroit Red Wings, Pavel Datsyuk never managed to record a regular-season hat-trick. His lone three-goal game came in the 2008 playoffs against the Dallas Stars.
Datsyuk did, however, record a Gordie Howe hat-trick.
He remembers it well.
“I won’t say that I dreamed of making a Gordie Howe hat-trick, but I’m glad that I succeeded,” Datsyuk was explaining to Sport-Express.ru correspondant Ivan Shitik.
In hockey terminology, a Gordie Howe hat-trick is achieved by recording a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game. Little-known fact – Mr. Hockey only collected two of these during his 26 NHL seasons.
Of all the players to achieve this feat, Datsyuk certainly was seeming to be the unlikliest recipient. Coming into the 2010-11 NHL season, he’d won the Lady Byng Trophy as the NHL’s best combinaton of skill and sportsmanship in four of the previous five seasons.
In 11 of his 14 NHL seasons, Datsyuk was sitting out 20 penalty minutes or less.
“What is it?” Datsyuk asked. “Lady Byng I have already won. Now I can play even more relaxed. Don’t worry, I won’t fight too much.”
Datsyuk Damages Ducks
The Red Wings were opening the 2010-11 season against the Anaheim Ducks. They’d met recently in the 2007 and 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs, so there was plenty of bad blood between the teams.
On home ice at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit was winning easily. The Red Wings were ahead 4-0 After two periods. In the second period, Datsyuk scored the goal to put the Red Wings up 3-0. Then he drew the lone assist on Dan Cleary’s goal to make it 4-0.
At the 7:41 mark of the third period, mayhem ensued. Ending up squared off with Anaheim agitator Corey Perry, Datsyuk suddenly was finding himself under an attack of fisticuffs.
The 6-foot-3 Perry held the upper hand early in the bout, but 5-foot-10 Datsyuk came storming back. He landed several punches on his bigger foe, ultimately wrestling Perry to the ice in the hockey version of the takedown.
“I’m not a very big guy to talk about what happened,” Datsyuk said. “What happened, happened. It’s part of hockey, part of the show.
“When you watch a fight from the side, you see how people grab each other and try to protect themselves. So, I was trying to defend myself.”
Datsyuk had one other fight as an NHLer. In the 2009 playoffs – also against the Ducks – the three-time Selke Trophy winner fought Norris Trophy winner Scott Niedermayer.