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After finally winning Stanley Cup, Hasek retires

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2002

DETROIT -- Dominik Hasek's career is complete.

One of the most accomplished goaltenders in history will retire to the Czech Republic as a Stanley Cup champion.

''The Dominator'' made the announcement on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after topping off an impressive resume with the elusive title at the end of a one-season stop with the Detroit Red Wings.

''Winning the Cup has been everything I could ever ask for,'' Hasek said. ''After 21 years of playing professional hockey at the highest level, I do not feel that I have enough fire in me to compete at the level that I expect of myself.''

The announcement by the 37-year-old likely Hall of Famer follows that of coach Scotty Bowman, who retired the night the Red Wings won the Cup.

''He left from the top, and I can say the same thing,'' Hasek said. ''It's a dream of many athletes.''

Ray Bourque did the same in 2001, capping off a 22-year career with his only Stanley Cup. Bourque was traded by Boston, following 20 1/2 seasons with the Bruins, and helped Colorado to the title in his final NHL season.

It will be tough for Detroit to replace Hasek, but possible candidates include Toronto's Curtis Joseph, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1 if he doesn't re-sign with the Maple Leafs.

Other high-profile goalies who could be unrestricted free agents are Boston's Byron Dafoe, the New York Rangers' Mike Richter and Dallas' Ed Belfour. The Stars have said they will not re-sign Belfour.

Captain Steve Yzerman, who will not offer his opinions on the coaching search, did suggest the best way to attract a new goalie.

''You get on the phone and get your checkbook ready,'' Yzerman said.

Hasek sought a trade to Detroit because he wasn't satisfied with his six Vezina Trophies as the NHL's best goalie, two Hart Trophies as the league's MVP, and a gold medal with the Olympic champion Czech Republic at the 1998 Nagano Games.

''It was the best decision I made throughout my hockey career,'' Hasek said.

''I am and will be a Red Wing forever.''

Hasek wanted his name on the Cup and guaranteed he would wear the winged wheel on his chest for one season. The Red Wings gave him $8 million for one season, with another $1 million bonus for winning the Cup. The team held options for two additional years.

It all paid off June 13 when Detroit defeated Carolina in Game 5 to win the Cup.

''He held up his end of the bargain,'' Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch said.

Hasek led the NHL with 41 wins during the regular season, then said he was nervous before the playoffs because of the Cup-or-bust expectations in Detroit. He hadn't experienced such pressure in his previous 11 playoff appearances with the Buffalo Sabres, which he led to the 1999 finals, or the Chicago Blackhawks.

After a shaky start, he recorded six shutouts -- two more than any goalie ever in the playoffs.

''We would not have won the Cup without him,'' Ilitch said.

Hasek's retirement was not his first.

While with the Sabres, he announced that the 1999-2000 season would be his last. But after missing much of the season with a groin injury, Hasek reconsidered and wanted another chance to win the Cup in Buffalo.

Hasek said then that an extended stay in the United States would make it hard on his son, Michael, to adjust to life in the Czech Republic, where the goaltender wanted to return with his family.

''We're all a little disappointed, but when you listen to the reasons he's doing it, you can't disagree or argue,'' Yzerman said. ''It's a decision between him and his wife, not me and him, or Dominik and the Red Wings. He doesn't live in Toronto or Chicago. He's a long ways from home, and he wants to live there.''



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