Red Wings' Hasek out for season

Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2004

DETROIT Dominik Hasek's season is over because of a groin injury. He's determined not to let it end his career.

''I'll be back next season,'' Hasek said Tuesday.

The 39-year-old Hasek ended his retirement after one year to return to Detroit this season, but he played in just 14 games before Tuesday's announcement. He was 8-3-2 for the Central Division-leading Red Wings.

Hasek said he doesn't regret coming back.

''No, I never made a mistake,'' he said. ''Unfortunately my groin wasn't strong enough.''

One of the NHL's all-time great goaltenders, Hasek won two MVP awards and six Vezina Trophies, given to the league's top goalie, during a nine-year stint in Buffalo. He also led the Czech Republic to a gold medal in the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

He joined the Red Wings before the 2001-02 season, winning his first Stanley Cup that season.

Hasek skated with his teammates Tuesday, then made his surprising announcement.

''It's very sad, but that's the way it is,'' he said. ''I hoped for two months it would get better every day. But it didn't get better, it got even worse last week.''

Rich Winter, Hasek's agent, said the goaltender's desire to win another championship will have him back on the ice next season.

''He came back to Detroit to win a Stanley Cup and I think he wants to come back again to be a part of another run for the Cup,'' Winter said. ''This was not the storybook ending we were all hoping for for Dom, in the final chapter of his career.''

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Hasek wants an extended period of time to give his groin a chance to heal.

''I think in the summertime he's going to decide whether he wants to officially retire,'' Holland said from a meeting of GMs in Henderson, Nev.

The Red Wings are left with the same goalies Curtis Joseph and Manny Legace they had last year. Detroit had one of the best records in the league last season, but lost to Anaheim in the first round of the playoffs.

''Curtis and Manny can concentrate on playing,'' Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman said. ''We have no distractions.''

The season started with a big distraction.

When Hasek retired in 2002, Detroit lured Joseph away from Toronto with a $24 million, three-year deal to replace Hasek. When Hasek returned and agreed to make $6 million this season, the Red Wings desperately tried to trade Joseph.

But no one wanted to take Joseph because of the two years and $16 million left on his contract.

''We're very, very lucky that he's been a real pro through this,'' Holland said. ''And luckily for us that nobody claimed him.''

Joseph is 13-9-2 with a 2.48 goals-against average this season. He has kept his family in the Toronto area because he didn't know where he would end up playing this year.

''I don't think there's been a player in the league who's gone through more adversity individually this season,'' Detroit coach Dave Lewis said. ''And I think he's become a stronger person and player because of it.''

''Sometimes the (trades) you don't make are the best ones.''

Joseph did not make himself available to reporters after practice Tuesday.

AP sports writer Ira Podell contributed to this report from Henderson, Nev.

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