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This is the season where Hasek's future will be determined
Sunday, July 25, 1999

This is the season where Dominik Hasek's future will be determined. The 34-year old Vezina Trophy winner (he turns 35 at the end of this January) is at the crossroads of his career. The Sabres are also at that fork in the road. What are they to do with him? At over $8 million per year, Hasek is a definite drain on the Sabres economy. They reportedly loss in the range of $15 million last season and Hasek is half that red ink. The Sabres will have to make a determination if he is actually worth that much in this small market town.

In order to do a complete analysis of Hasek's worth on this financially struggling club, the Sabres will have to compare his performance with what they could acquire for him in a mega-deal. The Sabres could get a lot of young players with smaller contracts, get a 50-50 exchange where there is some proven stars mixed in with youth, or make a superstar swap. The first deal would prove most profitable for the Sabres in their cash coffers. They would dump a huge contract and acquire young players who would get close to minimum hockey wage. The second deal would be the best of both worlds. Buffalo would dump Hasek's huge contract, but would acquire a proven veteran or stars to go along with some future prospects. The proven veteran could be a sniper who would improve Buffalo's feeble scoring attack. This would decrease the Sabres payroll a little and add a few prospects who could contribute in a year or so.

The Superstar Swap would have to be a good one for the Sabres to even consider it. It could be a four-player deal which could include someone like Miro Satan and Hasek for a comparable world-class goalie and scorer.

The other route the Sabres could decide to go would be to stand pat and let the Dominator finish his career in Buffalo. Goalies are known to have longer careers than most hockey players. Examples are Grant Fuhr who is still going quite strong in the nets for St. Louis, Johnny Bower (the ancient Maple Leaf legend who played in his late 40s) and quite a few others. Hasek is an agile and well-conditioned athlete. He rigorously exercises and maintains his body all year and doesn't have an ounce of fat on him. He is more like a gymnast than a hockey player, able to do split and other contortions while playing in goal. Dominik should be able to play at least 3 more years with not too much deterioration in his playing style. With that in mind, the Sabres ownership may decide that Hasek is worth the price and decide to retire his number at the end of his playing days in Buffalo. What's more, he's the only superstar on this team and all teams have to have a draw. Hasek is just that. Take him out of the cast and the Sabres may have trouble filling those seats.

This season will be the crossroads for Hasek and the Sabres. The direction Hasek's career takes will probably be determined by his play and Buffalo's standings near the end of the trading deadline in March. If the Sabres appear ready to move on to the next level and seriously strive for the Stanley Cup, Hasek probably will remain a Sabre for the rest of his career. But if the Sabres are floundering and appear to need some infusion of new blood, and blockbuster deal at the deadline may just happen.