Reports are indicating that Dominik Hasek is contemplating a return to the NHL. Hasek, 47, hasn’t appeared in the NHL since he called it quits following the 2007-08 season where he minded the net for the Detroit Red Wings. We aren’t pulling your leg. Even at the ripe age of 47, Hasek is apparently extremely motivated to play again in the NHL.
Hasek admits that he isn’t sure if a team would be willing to take a chance on him but he has stated that he believes he can complete if given the opportunity. If a team decides to take a gamble on Hasek what should they expect from the goaltender that hasn’t seen any NHL action over the past four seasons?
First, let’s take a moment and let the significance of this story sink in. Hasek was a dominant presence at the NHL level while he was playing. His NHL career began in 1990-91 with the Chicago Blackhawks and concluded – or so we thought – in 2007-08 with the Detroit Red Wings. He ended up playing in 735 games, compiling a record of 389-223-82-13 (Wins/Losses/Ties/OT Loss). His GAA over that time was equally as impressive, checking in at 2.20.
It’s clear Hasek was dominant during his prime – hence his nickname “The Dominator”. The question that needs to be answered is just how much of that talent is still within the aging goaltender?
The answer to that question might lie abroad. During the 2009-10 season, Hasek suited up for HC Pardubice, a team that plays within the Czech Extraliga. Here he played in 36 games, achieving a record of 24-12-0 with a GAA of 2.24. The level of competition in the Czech Extraliga should be questioned but the fact here is that Hasek demonstrated he is competent in the net despite his age. Further proof of this fact lies in 2010-11 when Hasek skated for HC Spartak Moscow of the KHL. The level of competition in the KHL was a bigger test for the veteran but he still adequately rose to the challenge, finishing with a 23-18-3 record with a 2.45 GAA and seven shutouts. If his time abroad taught us one thing it’s that Hasek still has plenty of talent left in him.
As we all know, life in the NHL is quite different than that in the Czech Extraliga or the KHL. The competition is steeper and will be more challenging for Hasek. The veteran goaltender knows this. Reports indicate that he has been on the ice daily with a goaltending coach in the hopes of rounding himself back into top form. One thing that fans shouldn’t question is Hasek’s motivation which appears to be nearly overflowing.
The lone thing that might cut Hasek’s comeback bid short is a contract. Plenty of teams could wrap their head around the idea of giving Hasek a one-year deal, chaling it up as a gamble with little risk and a decent upside. However, Hasek apparently wants a multi-year deal. It’s doubtful that you’ll find a team that’s willing to sign a 47-year-old to a multi-year deal – especially one that hasn’t been in the NHL since 2007-08.
If Hasek is able to come to terms with a team it’s a certainty that he will see some playing time. No one is going to sign the veteran netminder to have him stashed away like a prospect. If Hasek is as motivated as he states it’s not too far-fetched to think he could once again be a netminder that could rise to the challenge of stealing a game for a team when they need it most.