Lacking motivation to continue career, Hasek retires after 16 seasons
DETROIT -- The passion that made Dominik Hasek great is gone.
So, the goaltender known as the Dominator said goodbye to the Detroit Red Wings and NHL.
"Physically, I'm felling great -- as well as ever," Hasek said Monday as he announced his retirement. "I just don't feel that I'm ready to compete on the highest level.
"I need motivation. Right now, I don't feel it's there and I don't want to disappoint anyone."
Hasek rarely did disappoint during his 16 seasons, becoming the first goalie to be a two-time MVP. He won six Vezina Trophies, trailing only Jacques Plante's total by one.
Hasek's announcement came five days after the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup over Pittsburgh.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland said Hasek's place in history is secured, calling him not only one of the greatest goalies of his era -- along with Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur -- but also one of the best in NHL history.
Dominik Hasek spent his NHL career known as the Dominator. Looking at where his numbers rank among other goalies, it's not hard to see why Hasek is considered a first-ballot Hall of Famer.• How Hasek compares
• Vote: Where does he rank?
"He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Holland said.
Former Red Wings great Steve Yzerman agreed.
"You're splitting hairs if you pick one between Dom, Roy and Brodeur because they all had different styles," said Yzerman, a team executive and former teammate of Hasek's. "It's like comparing Mercedes, Ferrari to Porsche."
Hasek lost his job during Detroit's run to the Cup, getting benched for good during the opening-round series in favor of Chris Osgood. The 43-year-old from the Czech Republic insisted he would've retired even if he stayed in net throughout the playoffs.
"I am leaving this game feeling very, very happy," he said.
Holland didn't try to persuade Hasek to return for another season.
"There was nothing to discuss," Holland said. "Dom was completely at peace with the decision that he had made."
Holland said minor league goalie Jimmy Howard might get a shot to be Osgood's backup next season, but didn't rule out adding a veteran via trade or free agency.
Hasek won 389 games with the Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted him in the 10th round in 1983 and had to wait until the 1990-91 season to get him on the ice. Chicago kept him just two seasons, then watched him become one of the game's greats in Buffalo.
Hasek ranks 10th in NHL history in wins, ninth in goals against average, 18th in games and is tied for sixth in shutouts.
He won 65 playoff games, including 16 in 2002 when he won his first Stanley Cup with Detroit.
"It was our goaltender who made the difference that year," Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch said.
Hasek led the Czech Republic to gold at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, was injured while playing for his country in 2006 and laughed when asked if he would come out of retirement to play in 2010 in Vancouver.
He plans to return to the Czech Republic soon with his wife and daughter, leaving his son behind to attend Michigan State University.
One of Hasek's most impressive feats was the six Vezina Awards he won as the NHL's best goaltender in a single season.
During this past regular season, Hasek won 27 games and had a 2.14 goals-against average while alternating with Osgood in net.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock chose to start Hasek in the playoffs -- saying "Dom's not going to struggle" -- then pulled him in favor of Osgood during Game 4 of the first round against the Nashville Predators.
Osgood won his first nine games as a starter in the postseason and finished with a 14-4 record and a league-low 1.55 goals-against average, keeping Hasek on the bench.
After an injury-shortened season with the Senators, Hasek returned to the Red Wings two years ago.
He signed a one-year contract worth $750,000 in 2006 and made $900,000 in bonuses. He chose to stick around last summer with a one-year contract worth more than $2 million in base salary with a chance to earn an additional $2 million in bonuses.
Detroit acquired Hasek the first time in 2001 in a trade with Buffalo, where he had been since 1992. He backstopped the Red Wings to the championship during his first season in Detroit, then retired.
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who helped gather about 20 teammates to Joe Louis Arena for Hasek's news conference, said the Dominator's competitive streak made him special.
"He hated to get scored on -- even in practice," Lidstrom said. "If you got one past him, he would yell at you, 'Shoot again!' Of course, that didn't happen very much because he was so good."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press