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 Milestone games for Pavel Datsyuk (600) and Henrik Zetterberg (500) on tap

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PostSubject: Milestone games for Pavel Datsyuk (600) and Henrik Zetterberg (500) on tap   Milestone games for Pavel Datsyuk (600) and Henrik Zetterberg (500) on tap Icon_minitimeWed Mar 31, 2010 12:20 am

Last Updated: March 30. 2010 7:12PM
Milestone games for Pavel Datsyuk (600) and Henrik Zetterberg (500) on tap
Chris McCosky / The Detroit News

Detroit --How about this production from two players at the midpoint of their careers: 1,100 games, 401 goals, 653 assists, two Stanley Cups, four Lady Byngs, two Selkes and a Conn Smythe.

Not bad for one player taken in the sixth round and the other in the seventh.

"Obviously," general manager Ken Holland said with a bit of a snicker, "they have exceeded our expectations by a significant amount."

Pavel Datsyuk, drafted in the sixth round in 1998, was to play his 600th NHL game Tuesday night. Henrik Zetterberg, a seventh-round pick in 1999, was to play in his 500th.

That those two would be the ones to take the torch from Steve Yzerman, Igor Larionov, Chris Chelios, Kris Draper and Nicklas Lidstrom and carry on the Red Wings' tradition of success never entered Holland's thoughts on draft day.

"When you draft players in the later rounds, you are hoping they can someday become NHL players," Holland said. "To take a guy in the sixth round and another in the seventh and see them develop into two of the premier two-way forwards in the game, it's extraordinary. They have exceeded our hopes by a long way."

It's been a pleasant surprise to Zetterberg, as well.

"Coming here a few years ago, we had a pretty outstanding team," Zetterberg said. "Coming in and being able to play with those guys was awesome and I learned a lot. Now, as the years went by, me and Pav have played more and gotten more opportunities. It's been special."

Zetterberg, 29, and Datsyuk, 31, magical on the ice, are also fairly close off the ice.

"It's because we were the only young guys when we first got here," Zetterberg said. "There were a lot of veterans who had been playing here a long time so me and Pav kind of found each other on and off the ice and it's grown from there."

The success of the "Euro Twins," as they have been dubbed in the past, hasn't come as any surprise to Lidstrom.

"The first time I saw Hank was the Olympics in 2002 in Salt Lake City," Lidstrom said. "He was playing in Sweden then, but I saw right away he had the skills and potential to be good here, too. And Pav, the first time I saw him, just the skill -- the things he could do one-on-one and individually. Both kept getting better and better with ice time and confidence."

Lidstrom has been pleased how both have grown to embrace their leadership roles, as well.

"They both signed long-term deals, so they want to stay here, they want to be part of this organization and I think that says a lot about the two of them," Lidstrom said. "They learned a lot from the older guys who have been here, seeing what they did and now taking over that role themselves. As they've gotten older, they've gotten more experience and more responsibility getting to be assistant captains and leaders now for our team."

Zetterberg signed a 12-year deal in January 2009 and Datsyuk signed a seven-year deal in 2007.

So, with any luck, they should be still wearing Red Wings sweaters when they play their 1,000th game.

"We have a chance, if we stay healthy enough and play well enough to do that, to end our careers here," Zetterberg said. "Now, with the salary cap, players can't stay with one team long enough. But me and Pav have had the privilege to find a spot and build a home here and hopefully we can spend the rest of our careers here."

From The Detroit News:

"If you have to choose between power and speed and it often turns out you have to make that choice, you've got to go for speed." Source: TV Guide Interview (April 3, 1982)
-- Sparky Anderson
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