Hasek plays on

It looks like Dominik Hasek doesn’t know when to hold them or when to fold them when it comes to hanging up his skates. If you haven’t heard, the 45-year old former goaltender has signed with the KHL in Russia. Normally, I wouldn’t really write about this matter, but I decided to chime in and give my opinion on one of the most controversial players in Buffalo sports history. As usual, I’m going to be in minority on my thoughts on the Dominator.

Personally, I think fans that hate this guy’s guts need to get a reality check and some Prozac. Let us deal with the two 800lb gorillas in the room. Now, for the gorilla that’s not as dangerous (Curious George?) as the other one. Most fans have shown a lot of resentment towards Dom for requesting a trade out of Buffalo after the 2001 season.

First off, I have absolutely no problem with him wanting out. For almost the majority of Hasek’s career, he had to deal with an organization that refused to provide the tools (John Rigas quote) to bring home a Stanley Cup. When you go three years with having Miro Satan as your best offensive player, you’re being asked to do a lot for your team. His request for a trade came at a time when the Sabres refused to pay Micheal Peca four million dollars a season and just a year away from the owner making a visit to the Big House. In other words, Hasek must have encountered a psychic in the East Village of New York City because he was right on the money to request a one way ticket out of town.

Hasek had done enough for the franchise and asking to get traded to Detroit was his best option to win a cup. He had done more than enough to keep this franchise competitive, and something tells me that he knew the Sabres wouldn’t be in position to payout star players like the Red Wings were doing. The proof was in the pudding with the Peca fiasco. All I’m saying is that instead of being pissed off at Hasek for wanting to be traded, you should channel your anger towards Darcy Regier and John Rigas for not surrounding the greatest goaltender in the world with star star caliber players. Hmmmm…doesn’t that sound like something we are going through with Ryan Miller and this current crop of players?

Now, for the dangerous 800lb Gorilla (King Kong?) in the room, Yes, I’m sure we have all heard the stories on how Hasek might have quit during the 97′ playoffs and got Ted Nolan fired. I’m not going to regurgitate the whole saga between Nolan and Hasek. In a nutshell:
1) Hasek got hurt.
2) Fans and media members questioned the severity of the injury.
3) Hasek beat Jim Kelley’s ass.
4) Hasek got suspended.
5)Ted Nolan didn’t really give a ringing endorsement to Hasek being hurt.
6) Hasek said he didn’t want to be coached by Ted and the rest was history.
Now, I know a lot of fans have never forgiven Hasek for his feud with Nolan. However, let me tell you a couple of things about that “legendary” 96/97 team that so many Sabre fans have put up with the likes of the great Michael Jordan and Tom Brady teams in sports history….

O-V-E-R-R-A-T-E-D

That team was the most untalented group of guys in the history of Buffalo Sabres hockey. The only reason they won the division was because of Hasek’s play. You can tell me all about how Brad May and Matt Barnaby were tough, gritty blue-collar players that would throw down 20 beers. However, without Dom, that team would have been in the toilet. The only reason that team is popular with Buffalo fans are because most people can’t help themselves but get all emotional and happy whenever a team has a group of gritty players that score 10-15 goals a season and start a bunch of fights. I don’t know what it was…I guess it had something to do with being blue-collar or whatever. All I’m saying is this; if I had to pick between having arguably the greastest goaltender in the world or a coach that had one good season in the NHL, I’m going with Hasek.

Bottom line: If Hasek is inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame, I think it would behove the fans to cheer him with thunderous applause. If it wasn’t for him, the Sabres wouldn’t have made the playoffs from 1996-2001. If it wasn’t for him, the Sabres wouldn’t have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. If it wasn’t for him, the Sabres wouldn’t have made money. Yes, he is a weirdo, but his skills on the ice should overshadow whatever issues you may have with him.
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