BUFFALO – Dominik Hasek swears he’s retired from hockey. The legendary Sabres goalie hasn’t played professionally since his one-year stint in the Russian KHL ended in February 2011.
His goalie equipment, Hasek said, hasn’t left the bag since then. These days, the 49-year-old plays once or twice a week as a defenseman in a rec league back in his native Czech Republic.
“You wake up and you enjoy your life different ways,” Hasek, whose No. 39 will be retired by the Sabres next season, said this morning inside the First Niagara Center.
Still, retiring wasn’t easy. Hasek wanted to return to the NHL during the summer of 2012. The Sabres’ old regime even met with him out of respect.
“I was thinking about playing hockey even one year ago,” Hasek said. “Before this season I made the decision I’m not going to play professionally anymore.”
Honors are starting to accompany Hasek’s retirement. The Sabres will induct him into their Hall of Fame prior to Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. His number will go up to the rafters next season, the Sabres announced today.
Today, Hasek plans to seek out his former coach, Ted Nolan, who’s back leading the Sabres. The two clashed during Nolan’s first run here. Hasek, however, has no hard feelings.
“I know there was some question, the relationship between me and him, but what can I say?” Hasek said. “I believe he is the coach right now and he will help the team to improve. The team needs to get better.”
Hasek said he’s “looking forward to seeing” Nolan.
“Whatever happened, what can I say about it?” he said. “Sometimes you feel different way than the other person. Sometimes you feel that your decision is better than his decision. But on the ice, the one or two years we were together, we did a good job for this organization.”
Hasek, arguably the greatest goalie in NHL history, talked about a number of subjects during a 15-minute chat today. Here are some other highlights:
On the Sabres’ current sorry state:
“I believe one day Buffalo win the Cup. It will be with some other people and this city deserve to win one day. I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but one day it will happen.”
On if losing the 1999 Stanley Cup final still stings:
“Not so much. It’s part of your life. You cannot win every game. You cannot win the championship you want.”
On how he wants to be remembered:
“I want to be remembered as a competitor who gave the team (a chance) always to win the game.”