Now, I know what you’re thinking. How on earth could a 47 year old goaltender compete in the NHL? And truthfully you are, in principle, right for thinking that. But realistically if someone were to pull it off, would you put it past Dominik Hasek?
The man is easily the best European goaltender to play in the NHL to-date, with all due respect to what Henrik Lundqvist has yet to accomplish, and is the owner of the most dominant stretch in modern goaltending. From the moment he caught on in Buffalo, the Vezina Trophy was his own personal paperweight, capturing six from 1994 to 2001. There was also the small matter of two Hart trophies, and two Pearson awards, and three Jennings awards (one with Detroit). He also had six NHL first team nominations, an All-Rookie team nod and six all-star game spots for good measure.
Let’s also not forget the Olympic gold medal and Best Goaltender award in 1998 when he pretty much did everything short of scoring for the Czech Republic. The fact he was nominated for THREE OTHER Hart trophies and came up short should also factor into your thought process, as well as the fact he is the official Czech Hockey Player of the 20th Century.
Now, I’m well aware that he is far removed from his best days, but this is a guy who is inherently immaculate at stopping pucks. Even as a goalie in his mid-40s, he still had save percentages above .900 in his last two KHL seasons. A counterpoint to that is obviously the KHL is a Mickey Mouse league, which is true, but he is playing at a high level there and some part of that could translate.
I’m not here to tell you that Dominik Hasek coming back means that he’ll bag another Vezina, or that he’ll even be a starting goaltender. What I do know, though, is that he was, is and will always be a thoroughly entertaining hockey player, a personality that sticks out, and worth the price of admission — assuming he plays, of course.
For those of you who need a refresher…
Having said — and watched — all that, will Hasek come back and be an NHL goaltender next season?