Dominik Hasek arguably was one of, if not the best, goalie in the NHL during the 1990s. He certainly earned the nickname “The Dominator.”
Two nights after Teemu Selanne’s No. 8 was retired, Dominik Hasek’s No. 39 will be raised to the rafters of First Niagara Center on Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings.
.@zadorov61 shares a laugh w/ Dominik #Hasek & Alexei Zhitnik as the sharing of #Sabres stories / memories continues. pic.twitter.com/0ljM9RN1qu
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) January 13, 2015
With all of the showmanship and distractions happening tonight, the Detroit Red Wings need to regroup after playing a lackluster game against the Washington Capitals on Saturday. That was when goalie Jimmy Howard tore his groin and needed to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.
Now with Petr Mrazek — a fellow Czech who idolized Hasek growing up — taking over the No. 1 position, the Red Wings need to pick up two crucial points in order to keep the Boston Bruins at bay from taking over the third spot in the Atlantic Division.
Hasek’s Time in Detroit
It’s especially fitting Hasek has his number retired against Detroit, as he played with the Red Wings for four seasons (2001-04 and 2006-08) and helped them win two Stanley Cups in 2002 and 2008. He was replaced in the playoffs by Chris Osgood in 2008 but played in 41 games during the regular season.
Hasek’s playing style was unorthodox — no one had seen anything like it before. Mrazek summed up Hasek’s playing style perfectly, telling MLive.com’s Brendan Savage:
“He was special. He played differently. That was his style. It didn’t matter. What matters is he stopped the puck.”
Truer words were never spoken. He flopped around like a fish out of water, but he stopped the puck and you couldn’t fathom how he did it or how he didn’t hurt himself more doing it.
NHL.com Buffalo Sabres correspondent Joe Yerdon extracted this fantastic quote from Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on coaching Hasek back in 2008 when he had to replace him for Osgood in the playoffs.
So that Mike Babcock quote about switching Dominik Hasek out for Chris Osgood in 2008 I teased you about? Here it is: pic.twitter.com/4oKTtRG7lg
— Joe Yerdon (@JoeYerdon) January 13, 2015
It didn’t matter if it was in practice or the Stanley Cup final, Hasek was so mad every time he allowed a goal. And that desire to not let it happen again was what made him one of the best to ever play the game. He always wanted to prove he could be better than his last miraculous save.
When Hasek was inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame in March 2014, the Sabres did an episode of Beyond Blue & Gold chronicling Hasek’s career.
Special Night for Both Teams
It’s only fitting the Sabres get the chance to retire his number. He spent most of his career and Buffalo, and that was when he established himself as The Dominator.
But he had a lot of success in Detroit, and nine of the current Red Wings played with Hasek while he was in Detroit.
This is a special night for Hasek and the city of Buffalo, but it’ll also be a special night for the Red Wings.
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Tom Mitsos is a Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter @tom_mitsos.