Red Wings bring back Hasek for third time

Updated: July 31, 2006, 10:02 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Detroit Red Wings looked to their past to settle their goaltending present, bringing back 14-year veteran Dominik Hasek for the third time on Monday.

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Red Wings GM Ken Holland is gambling that Dominik Hasek can remain healthy enough to play 40-45 regular-season games. The bigger gamble is that Hasek can be a positive factor come playoff time, writes E.J. Hradek. Story Insider

"Dom seems very committed and very excited about an opportunity to come back to Detroit and try to help our team win a Stanley Cup," general manager Ken Holland said. "We really see Dom coming into training camp as our number one goaltender. Bringing Dom back is a real positive for our team and is very exciting."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hasek, who helped the Wings to their most recent Stanley Cup title in 2002, is returning to Detroit after an injury-plagued season with the Ottawa Senators. He joins another Red Wings Cup-winner, Chris Osgood, who was brought back as a reserve.

"I couldn't believe when Ken called me and told me they are interested in me coming to Detroit. I knew right away it was a wonderful opportunity," Hasek said.

Dominik Hasek
Elsa/Getty Images/NHLIThe Red Wings hope bringing back Hasek leads to additional deja-vu moments like this one from 2002.

After deciding not to bring back Manny Legace, following a strong regular season and poor postseason, the Red Wings made finding a starting goalie their top priority. Detroit had been interested in Ed Belfour before he signed with the Florida Panthers.

Detroit had the best record in the NHL last season but was knocked out of the playoffs by Edmonton in the first round.

Hasek, who will begin his third stint with Detroit, earned $1.5 million with the Senators last season. Ottawa said goodbye to the six-time Vezina Trophy winner earlier this month and replaced him with former Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Martin Gerber.

Detroit acquired Hasek the first time in 2001 in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres, where he had been since 1992, twice winning the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player. He backstopped the Red Wings to the championship during his first season in Detroit and then retired that summer.

But Hasek came out of retirement to rejoin Detroit for the 2003-04 season, creating an uncomfortable goaltending triangle with Curtis Joseph and Legace. He played in just 14 games, going 8-3-2 with a 2.21 goals-against average, before a chronic groin injury ended his season.

Hasek went 28-10-4 with a 2.09 GAA in 43 games last season with Ottawa, but didn't play after injuring a groin while playing for the Czech Republic in the Turin Olympics. Hasek hoped to play during the postseason but never fully recovered.

"I do all kinds of sports, testing my groin," Hasek said. "At this point, it feels great. That's my goal, to feel great the whole season."

Hasek said he hasn't discussed his playing schedule but wouldn't mind playing 45 to 55 games.

"I don't have to play 65 games like I used to. It's not necessary at all," Hasek said. "I want to be playing my best hockey when the playoffs arrive."

Hasek, 41, has a career record of 324-206-82 in 638 NHL games and led the Czech Republic to the gold medal in the 1998 Winter Olympics. He ranks fifth among active goaltenders in wins and 18th overall. His 68 shutouts are third best among active players and 12th highest on the league's career list.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.