Uneasy Dominator Despite opening with two victories, Dominik Hasek's return to the Red Wings has been anything but smooth

October 19, 2003

Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek began the season with consecutive
3-2 victories over the Kings and the Senators, stopping 42 of a
total 46 shots. It was the first meaningful action in 16 months
for the 38-year-old Dominator, who's back in net after helping
Detroit win the Stanley Cup in 2002 and then prematurely
retiring. Hasek was solid, if unspectacular, in last week's
matches, but the wins disguise the fact that he's not yet
comfortable in the cage. "I have to remind myself shift after
shift, Be sure of your position," he says. "I know I can play
much better."

Hasek is a notorious slow starter--his career 2.86 goals-against
average in October is by far his worst monthly mark--but he
doesn't feel he has the luxury of easing into form this season,
not with erstwhile starter Curtis Joseph stuck behind him in
Detroit. Hasek and the Wings' brass had hoped that Joseph, 36,
would be dealt before training camp, but his salary (a total of
$16 million for this season and next) and the surgery he had in
August to remove a bone chip in his right ankle made him

The presence of both netminders has Detroit players walking on
eggshells. Hasek and Joseph have spoken to each other only once
since Joseph rejoined the team in late September. (Backup goalie
Manny Legace is called Jimmy Buffer by teammates because his
dressing stall was intentionally placed between Hasek's and
Joseph's.) When Joseph is ready to play later this month, coach
Dave Lewis has to figure out a way to get him into the lineup so
Detroit can showcase him. "It's a difficult situation, probably
more for [Joseph] than me," says Hasek. "But I cannot think too
much about it."

"It's uncomfortable," Joseph said when he returned to practice on
Sept. 30. "I'm looking forward to the next destination."

Says Hasek, "I feel more pressure than usual, especially in the
beginning of the season. There is a lot of focus on me."

COLOR PHOTO: LOU CAPOZZOLA With Joseph nearly fit to play, Hasek (39) wants to get off to aquick start.