Chris Note: Another great post from Twig with a little revisionist history. Enjoy…
“What if’s” are often used to describe a situation that could have been better if only a certain event had occurred or not occurred. A lot of us believe that had Vladimir Konstantinov not been in that terrible accident, the Wings may have won more cups than the four we’ve celebrated since 1997. I agree, but this post isn’t about the happiness we missed out on, but the bullet we dodged.
Back in 2007, the Red Wings were in contract talks with Pavel Datsyuk. The talks were not exactly ugly, but due to the much lower salary cap, Pavel’s future with Detroit was in question. Though the Wings were still dominating the regular season, they had struggled in the last three playoffs. Likewise, Pavel’s regular season numbers were great, but his production wasn’t there when it really mattered. After the New Year, a trade rumor involving Pavel surfaced. Pavel Datsyuk for Scott Gomez.
Yeah. And this wasn’t just something that was being tossed around on the internet by cyber GM’s, this was in the news and even mentioned on FSD. At the time, their numbers were very similar. Pavel was still flashier, but as far as total points went, they were equal. Gomez wasn’t as good defensively, obviously, but his playoff numbers were better. Here are a few quotes from HF Boards at the time.
There is one major diff that I like about Gomez: he seems to help his teammates play better. I don’t know if you could say that about Dats.
For some reason, Gomez is one of the players that I haven’t really watched a lot or know a lot about. But with the simple information at hand, I’d say that the difference in playoff production is very striking.
They’re somewhat similar players, although Gomez is more of a north-south guy than Datsyuk. I think Gomez is the much better fit in Babcock’s system, despite only being a slightly better player overall.
It was very clear that Gomez would be leaving New Jersey. With Pavel’s contract talks still in the works and their numbers being similar, it made sense at the time to consider the possibility.
Coming off the 2005-06 season, only 3 points separated the two, but Gomez had put up 9 points in 9 games that playoff year whereas Pavel had only 3 assists to show for his 5 games.
Well, Pavel signed with the Red Wings after all, so the trade was not to be. Pavel had an outstanding playoff that year, his regular season numbers got even better and his name kept coming up as an MVP candidate. Meanwhile, Scott Gomez signed with the Rangers for about $1 million more than Pavel signed with the Wings and his numbers steadily declined. Even his playoff performances have dwindled over time.
So the next time you watch a highlight reel of Pavel Datsyuk and you think how lucky we are that he wasn’t drafted early by some other team, don’t forget we almost lost him to New Jersey for a one-time 30 goal scorer.