Monday, July 31, 2006

Wings Sign Hasek for Third Tour of Duty

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.


At 7/31/2006 02:33:00 PM, Blogger LawStudentGuyPerson said...


At 7/31/2006 06:36:00 PM, Anonymous Gabriel said...

My prediction: Hasek plays 21 games, tallying 15 wins and a 2.35 GAA, when, sometime in December, he'll trip over one of the many unsold Dominator Clothing boxes in his garage. The resulting injury will require a groundbreaking 22-hour groin transplant, but Dom will insist he'll be ready in time for the playoffs.

Taking no chances though, at the trade deadline Holland will send five key players to the Coyotes in return for Curtis Joseph.


But I'm not, you know, bitter or anything.

At 7/31/2006 07:37:00 PM, Blogger Brian List said...

Holland isn't paid six or seven figures to make signings any slug could make from his couch. Especially when this is the big gap that needed to be filled. The gap he created when he burned bridges with Manny and then tippy-toed in the free agency market. He really needs to get over the issue of trading away our second/third line talent and just do it. It's really turned into the difference between Toskala/Biron and Hasek. There was no interest in Hasek around the league, and this signing could've waited.

Holland has been over-rated for years. It didn't take much effort to spend $80 million like he used to. I've been losing faith in the guy ever since the Derian Hatcher/Ray Whitney signings. And the moves this season just show he is not the right guy for the current market. If the Wings don't make the Conference Finals or better next season, Holland is gone. And Yzerman is in.

At 7/31/2006 09:59:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

Holland's job is more than just signing players or making trades. He, and the rest of the Wings' front office brain trust, have done a pretty good job of drafting and giving the Wings potential now that the cap is in effect.

The Whitney signing was a dog but Hatcher could have been great for us had he not hurt his knee. Holland had nothing to do with that.

I don't know that it's reasonable any more to expect a Conference Finals showing this season. Holland is out if these signings don't work out, not if they don't do well in the playoffs. There is a difference.

In any case, I highly doubt Yzerman will be the next GM.

I'm not very impressed with Holland's summer but he does have a lot of credit built up. Just last season, everyone was singing his praises after the roster he assembled and the coach he got. It just didn't pan out.

It's time to change our expectations and accept that the team is not the #1 contender every season any more. I'm having trouble making that transition myself and that's why I've been hard on Holland this postseason. He's still a good GM and could still build a team that's capable of going all the way. It'll just take a couple years.

At 8/01/2006 01:02:00 AM, Anonymous Megan said...

Matt, while I agree with your opinion on Holland (for the most part) I must say I am a bit confused. You have been criticizing Holland for every move he makes (save the Markov signing) or doesn't make right along with everybody else. Why this sudden defending of him?

Now, onto the Hasek signing. While I wasn't thrilled when I saw this, I thought about it for a while and came to the conclusion that there is no down side. There are many people out there who wanted Ozzie to start and Howard to back up. Worst case scenario: Hasek goes down sometime after the trade deadline, and we have to start Osgood. Oh the horror. Best case: Hasek does not get injured, and we have Dominik Hasek in net in the playoffs. Show me the downside.

At 8/01/2006 07:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To defend Matt for a second:

Holland is extremely good at his position; possibly the best. However, this summer we haven't seen him produce (or do his job, can't really think of a word to use there...) as well as we're used to seeing, and I admit it's quite frustrating.

However, does he really need to be making a whole bunch of trades and signings? I mean, we lost Shanahan and Yzerman, but overall we were first in the league. The early exit was due to lack of commitment by the players in the first round (and the fact Edmonton went to a game seven in the finals). But was THAT really Holland's fault? Let's just hope that he knows what he's doing with signing the younger players (which he most likely does).

Now on Hasek...I don't see a huge problem other than if he gets injured. So, I'm just hoping he doesn't. If he does (like an 85% chance), then we still have Osgood. Just remember, when Hasek is well, his statistics are great. If he's not...he's only the second best in the league in SV% and GAA.

Anyway, no matter what happens, I'm just looking forward to a great season and quality hockey from the Wings.


At 8/01/2006 08:20:00 AM, Blogger Brian List said...

Holland's job is more than just signing players or making trades. He, and the rest of the Wings' front office brain trust, have done a pretty good job of drafting and giving the Wings potential now that the cap is in effect.

That's why we have scouts...the scouts are under-rated and Holland is over-rated. Half the time he's putting his trust in them and hasn't seen the player we're drafting play in person. Just because he calls their name doesn't mean he made the call...scouts are a big weigh in.

At 8/01/2006 08:25:00 AM, Blogger Brian List said...

And I forgot to mention Jim Nill's contributions...

At 8/01/2006 12:43:00 PM, Anonymous mcPhLoYd said...

what about signing some new forwards??? That should have been the priority before signing Hah-suck.

What forwards are out there that we could get/trade for??? Briere from Buffalo??????

GO TIGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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