Despite the fact that Dominik Hasek played in the NHL for 15 seasons, won six Vezina trophies, two Hart trophies, an Olympic gold medal, and is undoubtedly one of the two greatest Sabres of all time, his number has thus far remained unretired, since, well, he refused to retire.
However, all that changed today when The Dominator announced his retirement from hockey after 31 years of playing professionally, both in the NHL and overseas.
Hasek first broke into the NHL in 1990 with the Chicago Blackhawks, and played there for two years before being traded to the Buffalo, where he would spend the next nine seasons. It was in Buffalo that he crafted one of the all-time great careers for a goaltender, racking up award after award to go along with some ridiculous stats (how about his .937/1.87 season in 1998-99?) and 234 wins.
Upon leaving Buffalo under less than ideal circumstances, Hasek finally got his name engraved on Lord Stanley's Cup while playing for Detroit, and has spent the past two seasons playing in Europe or the KHL. Hasek did ask the Sabres for a tryout earlier this year in an attempt to return to the NHL, but the team declined, apparently as did all others. Here's Hasek on his most recent comeback attempt to NHL.com,
"There were training camps starting in the AHL and I wanted to participate," Hasek said. "I needed to play pre-season games, to be part of the hockey environment [in North America]. I was in touch with one NHL club and I had pretty good feelings about it, but then they called my agent and told him there was no interest from their side anymore." "I understand their reasons," he said. "I am 47 and I haven't played hockey for the entire season. But that's why I told the GMs: Give me a chance to play in the AHL for one month. You could watch me there and if you see I still have it, you can take me up to the NHL. And if not, you can kick me wherever you want."
Hasek is a certain first-ballot Hall of Famer, and has left an indelible mark on the Sabres organization. Now if only the lockout would end so can retire his jersey already.