Detroit Red Wings fans will get a chance to see some of their favorite players in early December, when they play a charity game in Windsor.
But if they want to see guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, they’d better have their passports up to date.
Datsyuk has been spending the lockout in his native Russia, playing for CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League, the team for which former Red Wing Sergei Fedorov is the head manager.
Zetterberg, expected to be the next Wings captain after the retirement of longtime Wing Nick Lidstrom, is is Switzerland, has been playing for EV Zug since mid-October.
They are two of the handful of Wings who are playing around the globe, while some of their teammates skate at the Troy Sports Center and others play for the Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids, the Griffins.
Datsyuk, 34, has had excellent success so far in Russia, racking up seven goals and 18 assists in 20 games. He’s second on the team in scoring, and six of his seven goals have come on the power play.
Yahoo! Sports’ Nick Cotsonika visited Russia and caught up with Datsyuk in late October. Datsyuk told him he missed Detroit “a lot.”
“Hockey,” Datsyuk told Cotsonika about what he missed. “Fans. Locker room. People. It’s tough a little bit. After over 10 years, you kind of change atmosphere. It’s a little bit different.”
Of course, playing in his native country is the next best thing to playing in the NHL.
“I like to play home, for Russian fans,” Datsyuk told Cotsonika. “They miss us, too, because we play during the nighttime (in the NHL). Not everybody can watch and work. And I speak Russian language. It’s easy for me.”
It’s certainly not easy for Wings fans to not be able to see Datsyuk, one of their favorite players, and Zetterberg, his fellow Euro Twin.
Zetterberg is also doing very well for his Swiss National League A team, EV Zug. In 13 games, he has 11 goals and eight assists — good enough for fourth on his team, even though he has played far fewer games.
In what might eventually work out to be helpful for the Wings, should the NHL and NHLPA ever come to an agreement, is that Zetterberg is playing on a line with Wings prospect Damien Brunner.
In a story that can be seen on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_xvq8MVvw0), Zetterberg said he originally planned to return to Sweden but that fell through.
“Zug approached me and I knew Damien Brunner a little bit before,” Zetterberg said. “He said it was a great organization, good city, and I just wanted to go and play some games.”
Brunner leads EV Zug and the league with 15 goals and 23 assists in 23 games.
Valtteri Filppula, 28, returned to play for his original team, Jokerit Helsinki of the Finnish SM-lliga. His brother, Ilari, leads the team with 13 goals and 19 assists in 24 games.
Valtteri Filppula had six goals and nine assists in 16 games for Jokerit before spraining his right knee during a game Nov. 13. Filppula is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
Maybe the Finnish League is just dangerous for the Wings.
Cory Emmerton, 24, left immediately after the lockout started to play for SaiPa Lappeenranta, also in the SM-lliga. In his very first game, Emmerton broke his right index finger. Emmerton had surgery and is currently back in the Detroit area.
Jonathan Ericsson, 28, returned to his native Sweden briefly to play seven games for Vita Hasten, a lower-level team in his hometown, and Soderalje, another lower-level team. Those two teams went 7-0 with Ericsson, who played nearly 30 minutes a game.
Drew Miller, 28, also went to Europe but landed in Scotland and is playing for Braehead Clan of the United Kingdom’s Elite Ice Hockey League.
In an interview with the Braehead Clan website, Miller talked about his experience across the pond.
“So far, it’s been great,” Miller said. “From the very first day, the guys on the team accepted me into the team and made me feel part of the team right away. That made my transition really easy coming into the team.
“I think the biggest part was transitioning with the time change. The first couple practices and the first couple games, I was pretty tired.”
In 11 games, Miller has five goals and 10 assists, fifth on the team despite playing in fewer games.
(To see the full interview, visit http://www.braeheadclan.com/clan-tv-talks-to-20-drew-miller-p179854.)
Jan Mursak, 24, returned to his native Slovenia to play for Olimpija Ljubljano.
In 18 games, Mursak has 10 goals and 21 assists.
Defenseman Jakub Kindl, 25, returned to his native Czech Republic to play for Pardubice in Tipsport Extraliga. Kindl has six assists in 20 games.
Defenseman Kyle Quincey, 27, did not leave the country. He played for the expansion Denver Cutthroats of the Central Hockey League.
Quincey, who used to play for the Colorado Avalanche, still lives in Denver and is friends with Cutthroats coach Derek Armstrong, a former teammate with the Los Angeles Kings.
In 12 games, Quincey had two goals and nine assists.
A couple of the players who were going to play for the Wings are playing for the Griffins during the lockout.
Gustav Nyquist leads the Griffins with eight goals and 11 assists in 16 games. Defenseman Brendan Smith has three goals and seven assists in 16 games.
As for players like Justin Abdelkader, Todd Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen, Danny Cleary, Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves, Ian White, Niklas Kronwall, Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson, they remain in Detroit, hoping a deal gets done so they don’t have to head overseas themselves.