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Sabres Central

Hasek wants to enter the Hall of Fame as a Red Wing
By Rick Anderson
July 2, 2001

Dominik Hasek bade his farewell to Buffalo and greeted Hockey Town the same day as his new crease stomping grounds. In his address to the Buffalo media, Hasek made it clear that while he may have some emotional attachments to the city of Buffalo and the Sabres, that he holds no regrets and now considers himself as a Red Wing. Hasek even went so far as to indicate what team colors he'd prefer wearing when he enters the Hockey Hall of fame.

Dominik Hasek against the Florida Panthers last December, performs the splits as he makes a save on Rob Niedermayer while defenseman Alexei Zhitnik attempts to clear the puck. Now he will be doing his slinky act in Detroit.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

Hasek was asked when he is elected to the Hall of Fame, if he would go into the Hall as a Sabre or a Red Wing. Hasek sat and thought that one out of a second and then replied, "Right now, a Red Wing."

Not only did that come as a shocker to the Buffalo sports media, but Hasek's revelation that he called Sabres GM an hour before the midnight deadline on Saturday saying that he would reject a trade if they demanded too much of the Wings. He told Regier bluntly to lower his demands for more talented Wings in exchange for him, or he would nix the deal completely. Also, there was a more lucrative deal in the works, and Hasek said no to that deal. It is possible that the more attractive deal for the Sabres was with the St. Louis Blues. Hasek wanted Detroit all the way.

Hasek held a contractual gun to Regier's head with his demands and insistence that the Sabres did not weaken the Wings too much, as he wanted the best team possible to surround him in his last quest at the prize that has been eluding him since he began his NHL career.

Hasek described how he would not jepordize the Wings chances of winning the Stanley Cup next year by allowing Regier and the Sabres getting some high quality players from Detroit.

"I told him (Regier), "No, no, no - he was asking for too much,' and I said, "I won't go to Detroit if you ask for too many players,'" insisted Hasek. "I told him, "I need every good player on this team.'"

When someone asked Hasek if he was concerned that the Sabres would get an elite player in exchange for him, Hasek replied, "Of course, and I would never let him do it."

"It was sort of business. It was nothing about community or money. It was strictly who you're going to have on the ice," pronounced Hasek. "And of course, I wanted the best players in front of me on the ice (with the Wings)."

One of the main reasons why Hasek chose Detroit was because he felt they were the team he could help put over the edge. With the Sabres movement of captain Michael Peca and their continued frugal ways, he knew he would never have the team that could possible have a legitimate chance at winning the Cup.

"I feel that Detroit team is more talented than the Sabres team," Hasek continued. "We never made it all the way, but we weren't a bad team. We made it to a final one time and a semifinal. We weren't a bad team. Many memories, but it's over."

Hasek said that he will miss Buffalo, but Detroit is where the action is at and he went so far as to indicate that those red and white colors would follow him into the Hall of Fame.

"There are many memories, so there is a little bit of sadness," Hasek tried to conjure up some emotion for the team and city he spent nine years in. "But I think more than sadness I feel excitement, because I think I can still prove something to myself and to people. That's why I chose to leave this city and this organization."

"It was very important for me to play in a town where the people love hockey," Hasek insisted. "The other teams are good teams, but not as special as Detroit."

How long will Hasek play remains uncertain, just as it did in Buffalo the past two years. Hasek two years ago said that he was retiring after the 1999-2000 season, only to renege on that promise. Hasek agreed to an $8 million contract for next season, with Detroit holding options for the next two years.

"I don't know how many years that I am going to play," Hasek pondered. "Maybe more than one. Maybe more than two."

In leaving Buffalo, Hasek left the town in a whirlwind of controversy, just as he had done most of his career while playing for the Sabres. He had been criticized for quitting the team, especially when he took himself out of the Ottawa series when Ted Nolan was the coach for the Sabres. He also put a strangle hold on columnist Jim Kelley after Kelley made comments about Hasek not playing in that series because of an injury that most players would play through. Hasek also was unable to maintain the regular season level of play when it came to the playoffs. Soft goals in crucial times during the heat of playoff action will always remain in the minds of avid Sabres fans when Hasek's name comes up. While some people still consider Hasek as the greatest goalie of all time, the fact that he never was able to capture that final piece of the trophy puzzle while with the Sabres will taint his image amongst Buffalo fans.

"This organization (the Sabres), it seems like they lean to build a team in two, three years, because they traded Michael Peca, and it seems like these players can improve," Hasek said. "I don't think these 20-year-old kids are ready to win the Cup. It probably takes a couple more years. Because my time is running, I decided to go. I think after many years I felt like I really need a change. I believe if I play for another team, I can really do something special."

Now the Dominator gets the chance to prove, not only to the world, but to himself that he can finally finish the quest of the Stanley Cup, similar to what Ray Bourque just accomplished with the Colorado Avalanche. Time is running short and that's why he feels the Wings are his very last chance of gaining hockey's ultimate prize.

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