Hasek signs after weeks of speculation

Updated: July 6, 2004, 6:03 PM ET
Associated Press

OTTAWA -- Dominik Hasek is thinking Stanley Cup again, and that's exactly why the Ottawa Senators signed one of the game's top goaltenders.

Dominik Hasek
Hasek

"I wanted to play for a team that I believe can win the Cup," Hasek said at a news conference Tuesday. "And I believe that with my help, all together, we can do it."

Hasek, who won his first Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002, signed a one-year, $2 million deal with an option year at $3 million. Should Ottawa win the Stanley Cup, Hasek would earn $4 million in bonuses, The Canadian Press reported.

"We've gotten a goaltender who's one of the best," Senators general manager John Muckler said. "This is an exciting time for the hockey team."

The move was not a surprise. Ottawa received permission from Detroit to speak with Hasek even before the Czech star became an unrestricted free agent last Thursday.

"Ottawa was my first choice, and I was very excited when my agent called back and said they were very interested in me," said Hasek, who is 39. "And today I'm here."

Hasek, who played just 14 games last season for Detroit because of a groin injury, could be a good fit for Ottawa. The Senators have a talented roster and Muckler was the GM at Buffalo for five seasons when the goalie was earning his nickname "The Dominator."

The Senators welcomed Hasek by having Jason Spezza give up his No. 39 to the goalie. Spezza will now wear No. 19.

It became clear the Senators were very interested in Hasek when they traded goalie Patrick Lalime to the St. Louis Blues during the NHL entry draft on June 27.

Hasek is a two-time league MVP and won six Vezina Trophies, given to the league's best goaltender, in nine years with the Sabres. He also led the Czech Republic to the gold medal in the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

He joined the Red Wings in July 2001, winning his first Stanley Cup 11 months later, then retiring.

He ended his one year-retirement last season, going 8-3-2 with a 2.21 goals against average and a .907 save percentage before the injury ended his year. He had groin surgery this spring.

"It was disappointing last year but at the same time, I know I can still play," Hasek said. "I know I'll be coming back and be in better shape than I was last year."

The Red Wings told Hasek they weren't interested in having him back, deciding to stick with Curtis Joseph and Manny Legace.

Meanwhile, Muckler needed to make a change in goal after Lalime played poorly in Ottawa's first-round playoff loss to rival Toronto this spring.

Muckler met with Hasek over a month ago to discuss the possibility of the goalie signing with Ottawa.

"The excitement on his face, it convinced me that this was the right way to go," Muckler said.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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