Hasek eager to play 1 more season in Russia
Saturday, March 19, 2011; 8:14 PM
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Dominator is not done yet.
After leading Russia's Kontinental Hockey League with seven shutouts last season, 46-year-old Dominik Hasek is eager to play at least one more year in Europe's elite professional league. Hasek, however, ruled out a return to the NHL, where he played 16 seasons, the last in 2007-08 when he won the Stanley Cup with Detroit.
"I definitely want to play one more year in Russia. I want to win the cup over there," Hasek said Saturday, during a return to his former home in Buffalo. "I feel great, in good shape."
Hasek completed his first KHL season after signing a one-year contract with the Moscow Spartak, which was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. He went 23-19-3, finishing fourth in the league among wins, and 17th with a 2.48 goals-against average.
He signed with Moscow a year after leading his hometown club, HC Eaton Pardubice, to the Czech league title.
Hasek would prefer to sign with a contender. Spartak had a $9 million payroll, among the league's lowest. He is also intent on playing for a team in which he would be the starter.
The chance to start is one of the reasons Hasek doesn't intend on an NHL comeback.
"The NHL, it's the best show in the world, but I said already when I left Detroit, I said goodbye to the NHL," Hasek said. "I want to play. But if I want to play, I don't want to be a backup goalie."
Hasek was a six-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top goalie, and earned league MVP honors in 1997 and 1998. His 81 shutouts rank eighth on the career list.
"I still believe I could play on the highest level. However, it wouldn't be a good idea to come back right now to the NHL," Hasek said. "I feel like I want to stay in hockey, but it's got to be Russia."
Hasek spent nine seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, and was back in town to take part in an NHL-sponsored Willie O'Ree skills event for youngsters that included his charitable foundation, Hasek's Heroes.
Hasek received a standing ovation that lasted nearly 45 seconds as he walked out to center ice for the ceremonial puck drop before the Sabres' game against the Atlanta Thrashers.