Legendary hockey goalie Hašek to play for hometown Pardubice

22-04-2009

Dominik Hašek is nothing less than an ice hockey legend – six time Vezina trophy winner, holder of the Olympic gold and two Stanley Cup rings. Now, the goaltender nicknamed the Dominator is back. On Tuesday Hašek confirmed he would return to the ice next season. This time not in the NHL, but in the Czech Extraliga.

Dominik Hašek, photo: CTKDominik Hašek, photo: CTK If Dominik Hašek never stepped on the ice again, his legacy in hockey would be assured: one of the best goaltenders to have come out of Czechoslovakia and one of the best to have ever played the game. In the NHL, the goalie known as the Dominator started in a total of 714 games with Buffalo, Ottawa, and Detroit - 389 of them wins, 81 shutouts. Hašek won the Vezina Trophy for top NHL goalie six times, the Hart for MVP twice, the Stanley Cup twice, and Olympic gold once. But the 44-year-old still isn’t giving up: on Tuesday he confirmed he had signed with hometown Pardubice, where he got his start way back in the 1980s. And, he made clear he was glad to be back:

“When I retired last year from the NHL I was very, very careful not to say I was retiring from hockey: I knew that otherwise people would say ‘Now you’re suddenly making a comeback’. I’ve thought about returning to the Czech Extraliga for a long time. Basically, I needed to take a break from hockey and over a few months I decided I wanted to return to the ice and to come back in the best form.”

Dominik Hašek, photo: CTKDominik Hašek, photo: CTK Hašek has always been known for unparalleled dedication to his sport, and there’s no question next season he will be one of the most-watched players on Czech ice. But can he really pull it off? The usually limber and acrobatic player is, after all, 44, and has admitted to last pulling on the skates a year ago. The consensus among many observers is that if anyone, Hašek can do it – if he avoids injury. Some allow he will even shine as one of the Extraliga’s best players and certainly that is what Pardubice are hoping for: not only that he will be good for the sport. While some sceptics may feel the goalie risks “tarnishing” a flawless reputation and should have called it a day, others will be glad to see him in action again. For the player, there is potentially even further motivation: as remarkable as it sounds, if Hašek proves solid between the posts, some have already suggested a return to the national team for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.

22-04-2009