Hasek wants to dominate again

Posted: Wednesday, July 09, 2003

DETROIT The return of two-time league MVP Dominik Hasek gives the Red Wings a unique problem: too many top-notch goaltenders.

The 38-year-old Hasek, who led Detroit to a Stanley Cup title a year ago, announced Tuesday he plans to come out of retirement to rejoin the Red Wings.

''My batteries are recharged, and I have the fire for competing for the Cup again,'' he said during a conference call.

The Red Wings late last month exercised an $8 million option on Hasek, who lives in the Czech Republic. It wasn't clear until Tuesday whether he would play this season.

Hasek's re-emergence in Detroit means the Wings have a glut of quality goaltenders, including two set to earn $8 million each this season.

Likely to be traded is Curtis Joseph, signed last summer to a three-year, $24 million deal as a free agent to replace Hasek. He first would need to waive a no-trade clause in his contract.

''Ideally, as quickly as possible, I'd like to get a goaltender moved,'' general manager Ken Holland said Tuesday. ''We're going to have to be creative with some other teams to try to put something together.''

Holland said he planned to talk later to the 36-year-old Joseph. Don Meehan, Joseph's agent, said he intends to work with Holland, but also will protect Joseph's rights.

''Ken hopes to try and trade Curtis within the foreseeable future and he's going to involve himself in due diligence in talking to other teams, and when he's done that work, he'll come back to me,'' Meehan said.

Joseph has not expressed a preference for a new team.

In addition to Hasek and Joseph, the Wings also have Manny Legace, considered by some the league's best backup.

''I know about the situation with Cujo, about his no-trade clause,'' Hasek said. ''My decision also unfortunately affects other people. However, my desire is to play with the Detroit Red Wings.''

Red Wings coach Dave Lewis said Tuesday he would reserve comment until the goaltending situation was resolved.

Hasek hasn't played as much as a pickup game as a goaltender since Game 5 of the Cup finals against Carolina in 2002. But he said Tuesday he felt he had more to contribute to the game.

''I will work hard to get into the same shape like I was before,'' said Hasek, who is eight pounds lighter than his playing weight. ''I want to be 'The Dominator' like I used to.''

During his year away from the NHL, Hasek played squash, roller hockey as a defenseman and soccer. He said he does not regret the decision to retire.

''After I won the Cup, I had the feeling that I had achieved everything in hockey,'' he said. ''Without motivation, you shouldn't play at least in my case. After one year not playing in goal ... I feel I am ready to play professional hockey again.''

Hasek is a six-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's best goalie, two-time Hart Trophy winner as the league's most valuable player and a gold medalist from the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

It's unclear how Hasek's situation could affect Detroit's bid to retain key veteran players that have yet to sign for the upcoming season.

If the Red Wings trade Joseph, they likely will have to pick up a portion of his salary next season, diminishing the cash available to pay other players.

Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman and Igor Larionov are unrestricted free agents. Last week, Detroit signed free agent defenseman Derian Hatcher to a $30 million, five-year contract.

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