The Sabres paid tribute to star goalie Dominik Hasek on Tuesday, retiring his No. 39 in a banner-raising ceremony before taking on Red Wings, another of his former teams. At this point Hasek should be very comfortable receiving such honors; his No. 9 jersey was retired in his Czech Republic hometown of Pardubice last year, followed by an induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November.
Hasek reminisced about his days spent in the league during a brief speech at center ice of the First Niagara Center. "Sabres fans are one of a kind and having your support means as much to me as any trophy that I have won," he told the crowd.
Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1983 NHL Entry Draft, Hasek entered the league at the age of 18. He spent sixteen seasons manning the pipes for the Hawks, Sabres, Wings and Senators, twice lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup with Detroit in 2002 and 2008.
It was during a nine-season stint with the Sabres that he established his reputation as one of the NHL's best netminders and reinvented the art of goaltending with his nontraditional 'flopping' style.
Buffalo will always be special to Hasek: It’s where he earned two consecutive Hart Trophies as MVP in 1996-97 and 1997-98, and took home the Vezina Trophy six times. He led Buffalo to the Stanley Cup Final in 1999, playing a part in one of hockey's most polarizing calls. In his 491 appearances with the Sabres, he compiled a 234-170-70 record, 2.22 GAA, a .926 save percentage and 55 shutouts. As if that list of awards and stats wasn't enough, Hasek was also a six-time all-star making “the Dominator” one of the most successful goaltenders of the 1990s and early 2000s. Overall, he comes at the very top of the NHL career list with a .922 save percentage, ranks sixth with 81 shutouts and seventh with a 2.20 GAA.
Hasek retired as a Red Wing at the age of 40 after being a part of Detroit’s 2008 Cup run in which he was replaced as starter in the Western Conference Quarterfinals by Chris Osgood.
-- Whitneigh Kinne