Hasek to return to Red Wings
Tuesday, July 8, 2003
BY GENE MYERS and GEORGE SIPPLE
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
First it was the Terminator.
And now it's the Dominator who has returned.
Which means today the Red Wings have a new bottom line: One too many $8 Million Men.
As expected, goaltender Dominik Hasek announced Tuesday morning that he would end his one-year retirement to return the NHL. The Wings own his rights, after picking up an $8 million contract option last week.
``My batteries have been recharged,'' Hasek said. ``I feel my fire is back. I want to play. I want to compete.''
The Wings also own the rights to goalie Curtis Joseph, last season's starter who also earns $8 million a season. Joseph, however, has something that Hasek doesn't: a no-trade clause.
But Hasek has something Joseph doesn't: a Stanley Cup.
Wings general manager Ken Holland wants to deal one of his high-priced goalies to bolster the team's forwards. He did not disclose which goalie he hoped to trade.
``I know what I want to do . . . not everyone has been told,'' Holland said. ``Until everyone knows, I'll leave it at that.''
Hasek, though, said he only wanted to play for the Wings.
``I do not have any interest playing anywhere else,'' he said. ``I know it is in the Red Wings' hands.''
The Wings' biggest void remains at center: Sergei Fedorov, a free agent, has said he does not want to play for Detroit again. Steve Yzerman, the captain, also is a free agent but says he intends to work out a deal eventually. Igor Larionov, who turns 43 in December, has turned down a $1 million offer.
Hasek turns 39 in January. Joseph turns 37 in April.
After Hasek won the Cup in June 2002 - the only thing missing on a resume that included two Hart trophies as the NHL's most valuable player, six Vezina trophies as its top goalie and an Olympic gold medal - he, his wife and their two children returned to his hometown of Pardubice in the Czech Republic. At the time, Hasek said he retired because he was burned out and he wanted his children to grow up in his homeland.
``After 12 years of playing professional hockey at the highest level, I do not feel I have enough fire in me to compete at the level I expect of myself,'' Hasek said at the time. ``I achieved my final goal and now I want to spend more time with my family and move on to new challenges.''
In Pardubice, Hasek concentrated on marketing his Dominator line of clothing and played inline hockey for fun.
Asked Tuesday whether he wished he hadn'tt retried in the first place, Hasek said: ``I do not regret it at all. I made a decision because I didn't feel I could play the next season at the highest level. I felt I achieved everything in hockey and did not have enough motivation. I feel recharged.''
Hasek also said he had not made a decision about the 2004-05 season.
When Hasek retired, two years - at the Wings' option - remained on his contract. A week after his retirement, the Wings signed Joseph, a free agent from Toronto, to a three-year contract worth $24 million. It includes an option for a fourth year.
Hasek's and Joseph's regular-season statistics in their one year with the
Wings are fairly similar. Hasek went 41-15-8 with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. Joseph went 34-19-6 with a 2.49 and a .912.