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Monday, July 31, 2006
Hasek, 41, is back. Deal believed to be for $500,000 plus incentives. (Update, 7:03 PM, Matt: Christy reports it's $750,000 plus incentives kicking in after first round of playoffs) This is completely shocking. Confidence in the Wings and Ken Holland = zero. Via SportsNet: Holland and Hasek will be on conference call at 1 pm today. Media can call 1-866-365-4406, and ask for the the Detroit Red Wings media conference with pass code 7838110. Any fans with time to try to join the call, let me know if you are able to get through. I'm sure Matt or I will post more on this once the work day is over. Update (5:25 PM, Matt): Well, how did you hear about it? I was pushing a wheelbarrow of hardwood mulch in the 98 degree weather (plus a ton of humidity) when my boss told me. Can't say it made my day. I thought he was joking, so I called up a friend (Megan, in fact.) She confirmed it. I have to say, the signing of a 41-year-old goalie makes the loss of Brendan Shanahan due to a "youth movement" seem even more farcical. How short is the institutional memory of the Detroit Red Wings? Very short, it seems. Let me take you back. Hasek was traded to, and signed with, the Wings on July 1st, 2001. I remember being excited about the team acquiring one of game's great goalies. It was a one-year deal with two additional years as team options. He went on to win 41 regular season games and help bring home the Cup the next summer. I was at the parade and, along with the million or so other Red Wings fans there, I chanted to Dom, "One more year." Then, I watched as he wouldn't commit, despite having FSN's mike from Ken Daniels and all of Hart Plaza pleading with him. He didn't come back. He retired and went home to the Czech Republic to play rollerhockey and figure out his clothing line. Curtis Joseph signed an $8-million-a-year contract with the Wings in the summer of 2002 and gave the Wings another #1 goalie after Dom's departure. He won 34 games for the Wings but, along with the rest of the team, fell victim to JS Giguere and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the 2003 playoffs. Not long into that summer, rumors started circulating that Dom was contemplating a comeback. He announced his return on July 8th, 2003. At the time, I was happy about it but felt bad for Joseph, who was, in the traditional Detroit way, unfairly shouldering the blame for the team's early exit. Joseph would have a nightmare of a season due to Hasek's incursion. He hurt his groin, was put on the trading block, and even played a game with the Griffins. Hasek's season wasn't much better. On October 29th, he allowed 4 goals on a mere 13 shots against the Blues and was pulled. It turns out he wasn't the only thing that was pulled; his groin was. He would come back from the injury but didn't play again after December 8th and finally announced he was done for the season on February 10th, 2004, after sticking around and souring the locker room. The best news to come out of the Hasek situation that year was that he refused to accept $3 million of his pay, knowing full well that he didn't earn it. Needless to say, the Wings were not interested in bringing Hasek back. Dom, however, was interested in trying again and he was able to con the Sens into signing him during the first week of free agency in 2004. At the time, Brian wrote a pretty good summation of Hasek's time in Detroit. Wings fans laughed knowingly at Senators fans who thought their team had finally made the move that would take them all the way. Then came the Lockout. Once the Lockout was over, Hasek would play 43 games in the 2005-2006 and be one of the best goalies in the League before the Olympic Break. However, yet another groin injury took him out for the rest of the season and he was unable to make it back to help the Sens out in the playoffs. And now he's back in Detroit. Apparently, Dom was surprised the Wings were interested in him when he found out earlier this month but he was unwilling to let the chance pass. James Mirtle, who listened in on the press conference, quotes him as saying, "At the end of the day, I couldn't lose this opportunity to come and play for the Red Wings one last time." James also reports Hasek says he's in full health. Like we haven't heard that before, Dom. Dominik's health is, for me, the biggest stumbling block to being happy with this signing. The second biggest is his age but that goes with his health so they're practically one big stumbling block. The past two seasons Hasek has played, he has had major groin trouble. In fact, the last full season the man had began almost five years ago! I don't care how healthy he is now, what matters is how healthy he is in April and, hopefully, May/June. He's 41 years old. He groin could be fine right now but how will he be feeling after 20 games? He's not some young stud who can just sit out a couple weeks and get all better. He's proven that twice over. A third issue I have is that he is apparently, as Christy wrote, "locker room poison." Granted, there will not be a three-goalie controversy this season but that doesn't mean Hasek will be good for the room. This is the third time he has disrupted the career of Chris Osgood, who was slated to be the team's starter in reports over the past week or two. They're both pros but I expect some tension between them and you know Osgood has more friends in that locker room than Hasek does. (If you can't remember the other two times, here you go: summer 2001 - Hasek's trade demand results in Osgood's ejection from the team that drafted him; summer 2003: Hasek signs with Sens, who send Patrick Lalime to St. Louis, effectively booting Osgood off his third team.) The Wings aren't taking a very big financial risk in doing this, at least not up front (we'll talk about playoff revenue - or lack thereof, if things go south - when the time comes), because the contract isn't for much. They are taking a big risk with their reputations, however. Ken Holland will look like the smartest man in the League if Dominik Hasek hoists the Cup for the second time next summer. He'll be a laughingstock if Dom goes down after 20 games with yet another groin injury and they have to scramble to make a trade for a goalie mid-season. He'll certainly be out of a job if Hasek goes down before the playoffs and isn't able to play when it counts. Kenny has gone from making a great signing to making a signing with a lot of potential for disaster (i.e. a repeat of 03-04) and with much less potential for glorious success (ie. at least a decent playoff showing). Anyway, I guess, welcome back, Dom. You'll make up for the last time, right? A2Y's got a good round-up post of media reports and fan reactions here.