THE DOMINATOR RETIRES: DOM HASEK OFFICIALLY LEAVES HOCKEY BEHIND
His unorthodox style of goal-keeping (he relied heavily on his extreme flexibility to flop around the crease!) led to many admirers, not least the NHL’s General Managers, who are responsible for voting for the Vezina Trophy winner for the NHL’s Top Goalie each year: Hasek won 6 times, an unprecedented total since the change in criteria for the Trophy in 1981. He also won two Hart Trophies as League MVP (97, 98), two Lester B. Pearson Trophies as the NHLPA’s Player of the Season (97, 98), three Jennings Trophies for least goals allowed in a season (94, 01, 08), and two Stanley Cup Championships (02, 08). He also made the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1992, and the NHL All-Star Game on six occasions, as well as earning six First Team All-Star honours at the end of the season. He was nominated for a further three Hart Trophies (94, 95, 99) and another Lester B. Pearson Trophy (1999).
On the international stage, his greatest moment was often said to be winning the Gold Medal at the 1998 Olympic Games with the Czech Republic, where he also picked up Best Goalie honours. In the 2006 Olympics, he earned a Bronze Medal despite being injured for most of the tournament. In the World Championships, he won one Silver Medal (1983) and three Bronze Medals (87, 89, 90), as well as three Silver Medals at the World Junior Championships (82, 83, 85). He also had three Best Goalie honours at the World Championships (87, 89, 90), and one in the World Junior Championships (1983).
Since retiring from the NHL in 2008 after winning his second Cup with Detroit, he has been in and out of hockey, playing in both the Czech league and in the KHL, but this past summer he had apparently been hoping for a return to the NHL at the age of 47 – he is still in great shape by all accounts, and was willing to play in the AHL to work his way back up. It’s a shame he didn’t get that one last chance, and the lockout obviously didn’t help, but I’m not sure many GM’s would risk taking on a goalie of that age who’s been out of the league for over 4 years – whether he’s one of the best who ever lived or not.
And he truly was that – one of the best who ever lived.