Joel Dorcas | May 7th, 2020
Dominik Hasek, “the dominator” was a very special player and perhaps the best goalie to ever put on a pair of pads in, at least, the modern era. Hasek was a nightmare to play against in the 1990s and 2000s winning multiple trophies for best at his position and for the entire league for any position. Let’s take a closer look at one of the leagues’ most interesting and intriguing characters, Dominik Hasek.
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Draft: 1983, 10th round-199th overall, Chicago Blackhawks
NHL Clubs: Chicago Blackhawks-1990-’92, Buffalo Sabres-1992-2001, Detroit Red Wings-2001-2004, 2006-2008, Ottawa Senators-2005
All-Star Appearances: 6
Tournament Play: Olympic Gold Medal 1998
Hall of Fame Induction: 2014
Not Your Prototypical Netminder
The pride of Pardubice Czechoslovakia, Dominik Hasek, should never write an instruction book on how to play the position of goaltender. Despite being the best at the position for more than a decade, Hasek had a style between the pipes that was impossible to analyze or explain simply because it was neither “stand-up” nor “butterfly”-the two most common styles used over the last 20-30 years. His way of stopping pucks was in a category all on its own, similar to former Bruins goalie, Tim Thomas. Hasek relied on acrobatics, whether it was sprawling, flapping, or stacking the pads, chances are the puck wasn’t getting by number 39.
From Pardubice Czechoslovakia to the NHL
At just 16 years of age, Hasek was playing professionally in the Czech League for HC Pardubice. He was drafted in 1983 by the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite this, he continued to play in Czechoslovakia until 1990 and was named the League’s best player in 1987, 1989, and 1990. His team also won Championships in 1987 and 1989. Hasek finally made his NHL debut during the 1990-’91 season but it was in a lesser role. He would be the Blackhawks backup goalie for two seasons as the Hawks already had fellow Hall of Famer Ed Belfour manning the crease.
Hasek becomes the Dominator
The brief stint in Chicago was uneventful but better days were ahead. Hasek was traded to the Buffalo Sabres and would become the teams’ starter by the 1993-’94 season supplanting another Hall of Famer, Grant Fuhr, due to injury. The 1994 season would be Hasek’s first Vezina(top goalie) Trophy-winning season, he would wind up winning five more which ranks second all-time to Jacques Plante‘s seven.
Just as impressive as the Vezina’s, Hasek took home back-to-back Hart Trophy’s(League MVP) for the 1996 and 1997 campaigns. Hasek is the only goalie in history to win the Hart twice. For him to win it in consecutive seasons is almost unthinkable.
The impressive seasons continued into 1998-’99 when Hasek put up a career-best goals-against average of 1.87 and a save percentage of .937. The Sabres would latch on to Hasek and would go all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals falling just short to the Dallas Stars.
On top of the hardware the Dominator took home during his career, numerous other notable benchmarks would take place. He would lead the league in save percentage for six consecutive seasons(1993-1996). Career-wise, he has 81shutouts, sixth all-time. A career 2.20 goals-against average, seventh all-time, and a career .922 save percentage which is number one all-time.
Winning with the Wings
After considering retirement, Hasek secured a sixth Vezina then was traded to the Detroit Red Wings. He would continue his dominance, winning a career-best 41regular season games. That season Detroit would go on to win the Stanley Cup over the Carolina Hurricanes, Hasek was a huge contributor, registering a playoff-record six shutouts.
A brief stint with the Ottawa Senators would occur in 2005-2006. Hasek would flirt again with retiring only to reunite with the Red Wings as a 41-year-old for the 2007-08 season. The goalie duties were shared with Chris Osgood until the Playoffs. In the end, the Wings would capture another Cup, this time with Osgood as the leading netminder.
Hasek retired from the NHL in 2008 but would play professionally in the Czech League and the KHL until 2012.
Perhaps Dominik Hasek’s greatest accomplishments occurred on the international stage. Who can forget the 1998 Olympics in Nagano? The Czech Republic at best were underdogs, as powerhouses like Canada, the United States, and Russia were all heavily favored. Hasek was instrumental in pulling off the huge upsets that took them all the way to winning Gold. Hasek was named Player of the 20th Century by the Czech Republic shortly after. This would be just another one of his many great accomplishments further prooving how great of a player he truly was.
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Main Image Credit:Embed from Getty Images