|Friday 2nd September 2022
Dominik Hasek. Everyone Laughed at Him, but He Managed
Gashek was born on January 29, 1965, in the small town of Pardubice. When the boy was 2 years old, his parents separated. However, Dominik was lucky with his stepfather, because he once led a future hockey player on a frozen lake. That's where the story of becoming one of the greatest goalkeepers in history began.
At first, his grandfather coached the boy at home. Then he took him to the stadium where the local hockey team played their matches. In 1971, the young athlete was brought to the Pardubice Hockey School. Despite his young age, Dominik is taken to the team of 9-year-old hockey players because they urgently needed a goalie.
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Debut in adult hockey
The young goalie made his debut in 1981 in Pardubice. He would go on to play 8 seasons with the team, becoming Czechoslovakia's twice champion, three times the best player in the country, and also the best goalkeeper in the period from 1986 to 1990. In 1991, Hasek was called up for military service and sent to the town of Iglovo, where the hockey player spent one season with the local team. After completing his service and the fall of the Iron Curtain, Dominik gets the opportunity to immigrate to the U.S., which he did.
Before leaving for the U.S., Gashek not only shined in the local championship but also helped the team at the international level. As a member of the youth team, the goalkeeper won three World Cup silver medals. But as a member of the main team of the country, Dominic didn't get any special glory. The most successful tournament was the 1983 World Cup in East Germany, where the Czechoslovak national team lost first place to the Soviet Union with the same number of points. Also, as a member of the Czechoslovakian team, Hašek took part in three World Cups and the 1988 Olympics in Calgary.
Chicago management, which drafted the hockey player, sent their rookie to the Indianapolis farm club, where Hasek nearly played the entire 1990-91 season. In 33 regular season games, the Czech allowed 88 goals and five clean sheets. He made his NHL debut in the same season against Hartford.
The following year, Gashek continued to play for Indianapolis but was called up to the first team much more often. At the end of the championship, Gashek played for the main team in 22 games in which he missed 40 pucks and took one clean sheet. Despite all the efforts of the goalie to be on the main Chicago roster the management made the silliest decision and traded him to the Buffalo Sabres.
In the 1993-94 season the Klinks' primary goalie was injured and Dominic gets a chance to prove to the club management that he is worthy of the role of the primary goalkeeper. In the regular season, the dominator played in 58 games and allowed 109 goals and seven shutouts. Gashek also had a playoff run where he allowed 70 shots on goal in Game 6 against the Devils. At the end of the season, Gashek won his first best goalie award. How Chicago's front office felt at this point is anyone's guess.
In the 1994-95 season, an enthusiastic Gashek continued his dominance on the ice. Upon his return to the NHL after the lockout, the Czech took part in 41 regular season games 85 goals and five shutouts Dominik for the second time in his career became the league's best goalie. Despite his success in the regular season, Buffalo suffered a setback in the playoffs. This time the Blades lost in the first round to Philadelphia 1-4 in the series.
In the 1995-96 season, due to a serious knee injury, Gaszek failed to show the usual level of play that was expected of him. However, the Czech goalie recovered by the start of the next season and had one of the best performances of his career. Dominik allowed 153 goals in 67 regular season games and five clean sheets in all competitions. For his phenomenal play at the end of the season, Gaschek again won several individual awards.
The next season was again quite productive for Gashek with 78 regular season games, he allowed 147 goals and 13 games on goal, which was a new club record. In addition to his success in the regular season, Buffalo for the first time in a long time managed to get to the semifinals of the playoffs, where they lost in 6 games to the Washington Capitals. At the end of the season, Gashek again became the best goalie in the league. Also, as part of the national team, the hockey player takes part in the Olympic Games.
The Czech national team defeated the strongest teams in the world the USA and Canada on the way to the gold medals of the tournament, and in the main match of the tournament with a minimum score of 1:0 defeated the Russian team. Dominik showed a great game during the tournament, conceding only 6 goals in 6 games and scoring zero in two games. This year not only did Hašek become the best goalkeeper at the Olympics but was also named the best hockey player of the 20th century at home in the Czech Republic.
After an incredible season the Czech has not slowed down and in the 1998-99 season, he continues to amaze the fans with his game. This time in 67 regular season games he allowed 119 goals and 9 shutouts, while his average shot protection rate was an incredible 93.7%. Together with his team, Dominik reached the Stanley Cup Finals where he lost in a hard-fought and controversial series to Dallas 2-4. At the end of the season, Gashek wins the league's Best Goaltender award.
The 2000-01 season became the last season of Gashek's career for Buffalo. The goalie played 67 regular season games for the Clinkers, allowing 137 goals and 11 dry goals. Buffalo made it to the quarterfinals in the playoffs where they lost 3-4 to the Penguins in a tight series. At the end of the season, Gaschek won his 6th career best goaltender award, which became the last of his career.
At the end of the season, Buffalo traded the expensive and old Hašek to Detroit, getting Vyacheslav Kozlov and a first-round draft pick in return. However, the Czech wasn't too upset and as a member of Detroit set a new personal record for wins. In the 2001-02 season, the hockey player posted 41 wins in 65 regular season games. However, the most important event of the season was ahead of him. After years of playing in Buffalo and Chicago, the goaltender won the league's top team trophy, the Stanley Cup, for the first time in his career. In addition, he played 6 times in the playoffs and set a new league record for this indicator.
Together with the national team, he participated in the second Olympic Games in 2002 in American Salt Lake City. The Czech national team hardly made it out of the group and lost to Russia in the quarterfinals.
After winning the coveted NHL trophy, Hašek announced he was retiring. However, he, like his compatriot Jaromir Jagr, cannot live without hockey. Therefore, a year later, the goaltender signs a one-year contract with Detroit worth $8 million.
The start of the 2003-04 season was very unsuccessful for the hockey player. Gashek suffered a serious groin injury and spent the major part of the season on sick leave. The next season the goalie signs a contract with the Ottawa Senators hoping to win his second career Stanley Cup. Despite quite good results in the regular season, he was unable to achieve his goals. Once again, injuries interfered. Due to a rib injury, the Czech sidelined him for the rest of the season. Ottawa, reaching the quarterfinals lost to Buffalo with a score of 1-4 in the series.
In 2006, at the age of 41, Hasek went to the third Olympic Games of his career. This time he was the backup goalie. At the end of the tournament, the Czech Republic managed to win bronze medals, beating Russia in the small final.
Ottawa did not extend the contract with the hockey player. Hasek returns to Detroit, signing a contract worth $750,000 plus bonuses. Even though Gashek was already in his fifth decade, he showed incredible stats for his age. In the 2006-07 season Dominik played 56 regular season games for the Wings, scoring 114 goals and registering 5 shutouts. Detroit made it to the semifinals of the Stanley Cup where they lost six games to eventual Stanley Cup winners Anaheim.
At the end of the season, Dominik announced his retirement again, but the Wings management managed to talk Gashek into another contract. Under the new agreement, Hasek received $2 million per season. As the season progressed, Osgood became Detroit's head goalie, with Dominik serving as the replacement. The most interesting thing awaited the Czech in the playoffs, where Detroit was once again the best team in the Stanley Cup after 4 years. In the final series, the Detroit hockey players outplayed Pittsburgh 4-2 in the series.
After playing 16 seasons in the National Hockey League and winning a huge number of individual awards, Dominik Hasek finally retires.