Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Farewell to Dominik

It's taken a couple of days, but it's time for me to genuflect on Dominik Hasek and the career he had. It was a bittersweet end for Hasek. Granted, he won the Stanley Cup, but only because he was lit up in Nashville, which allowed Chris Osgood come on and lead the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup.

Yet, even though he didn't lead the Wings to the Cup, his career as a whole will put him in the upper echelon of goaltenders of all time. Say what you will about Hasek, but he got results and was able to carry a team on his back just by being as solid as he was. If you take a look at any of those Sabres teams he was on, they couldn't get to the playoffs and have success if Hasek wasn't backstopping them.

There were a couple things that really stalled Hasek's career-- arriving to the NHL late in his life and then having injuries later on in his career which had people doubting his abilities. That notwithstanding, Hasek gave the hockey world many memorable saves and was at the center of the reason why video review is in the NHL-- the Foot-in-the-Crease incident in Game Six of the '99 Cup Finals.

Yet, when the Butterfly goaltending style was starting to take center stage, Hasek's "hybrid" style was the unique quality that made him the goalie he was. Frankly, there was no style for Hasek. He looked like he played a stand-up game, but he would stop the puck by any means possible. It was often exciting, often horrifying, often head-scratching-- but he got the job done.

It wasn't just on the NHL stage, as his two Cup rings, six Vezinas, and two Harts spoke volumes-- but his international results weren't too shabby either. Hasek captured a Gold Medal in the Nagano Games in 1998 and a Bronze in 2006, while he had three Silvers in the World Juniors from 1982-1984, as well as a Silver (1983) and three Bronzes (1987, 1989, 1990) in the World Championships. Worldwide, Hasek could get the job done, regardless of the stage.

On modern goaltenders, it's hard to keep Hasek out of the top-5, but all-time, he could very well be top-10, if not staying in the top-5. You either loved him or hated him, as you never really saw much of a middle ground when it came to fans. Yet, you have to give credit where it's due and with his credentials, it's hard to say he's not all he's cracked up to be. It could be a while before we see another unique goalie like Hasek.

No comments: