Dominik Hasek was selected in the 10th round of the 1983 NHL Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, who had little hope that he would be allowed to leave Czechoslovakia, which was still under Communist rule. A star in the Czech League's First Division, Hasek was genuinely content to stay in Europe and represent his country at the 1984 and 1987 Canada Cup tournaments.
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Hasek finally joined the Blackhawks in 1990, only to spend most of two seasons in the minors or on the bench as Ed Belfour's backup. He played in 25 NHL games, going 13-4-2 with a 2.08 goals-against-average that hinted of the excellence to come.
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On Aug. 7, 1992, the Blackhawks traded Hasek to Buffalo for goalie Stephane Beauregard and a fourth-round pick (Eric Daze). It would prove to be one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history. Within two years, Hasek would win the first of his six Vezina trophies as the league's top netminder.
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Noted for his unorthodox style of frequently flopping, writhing and flailing to make saves, Hasek enjoyed a streak of exceptional success that earned him the nickname The Dominator. In 1996-97, he won 37 games and became the first netminder since Jacques Plante in 1962 to be selected as the NHL's Most Valuable Player.
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During the 1997-98 season, Hasek snared his fourth Vezina by winning 33 games with 13 shutouts and a 2.09 GAA while facing more shots (2,149) than any NHL netminder. He became the first, and so far only, goaltender to win the Hart Trophy (MVP) twice.
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The finest season of Hasek's career included blanking Russia 1-0 for the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. He returned home to Czechoslovakia a national hero. "Hasek is God" signs were seen at various celebrations.
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Perhaps the most bitter moment of Hasek's career came in the third overtime of Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Final against the Dallas Stars. That's when Brett Hull was awarded the game- and Cup-winning goal even though his foot was clearly in the crease when he put the puck past the Sabres' netminder. Hasek's third straight Vezina was little consolation.
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Planning to retire in 2000, Hasek decided to play on when his "final" season was shortened by 40 games due to a groin injury that plagued him throughout his career. He won his sixth, and final, Vezina in 2000-01.
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Unwilling to pick up the final year of Hasek's contract at $9 million, the Sabres, on June 30, 2001, traded The Dominator to Detroit for Slava Kozlov, a 2002 first-rounder, and future considerations: Hasek was stellar in the postseason -- 16-7 with six shutouts and a stingy 1.86 GAA -- as the Red Wings went on to win the first Stanley Cup of his storied career.
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After playing at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Hasek announced his retirement, but was unable to stay away for more than a year. He returned to Detroit in 2003, but his season was marred by a groin injury that limited him to 14 games. There also was friction with incumbent netminder Curtis Joseph. The Wings then let Hasek sign with Ottawa in July 2004.
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Hasek went 28-10-4 for the Senators before suffering a groin injury at the 2006 Winter Olympics that caused him to miss the rest of the NHL season, after which he returned yet again to Detroit as a free agent.
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In 2006-07, he would backstop the Wings all the way to the Western Conference Finals before they fell to eventual Cup-champion Anaheim.
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Hasek was 27-10-3 with a 2.14 GAA and .902 save percentage in what would be his final NHL season. Beginning the 2008 playoffs as Detroit's starting netminder, he beat the Nashville Predators in the first two games of the opening round, but faltered in his next two starts, giving up seven goals and losing his starting role to Chris Osgood. These games would be his final NHL appearances.
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After the Red Wings defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games for the Stanley Cup, Hasek announced his retirement after 16 seasons, citing a lack of motivation to keep playing. The certain Hall of Famer leaves with 389 wins (tied for 10th all-time), 81 shutouts (tied for 6th), a 2.20 GAA and .922 save percentage.
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