Dominik Hasek wants to play in the NHL again

Jonathan Willis
May 27 2012 08:09PM

It’s hard to believe, but a 47-year old Dominik Hasek is once again pursuing a job as an NHL goaltender.

Hasek didn’t play last year, but then a season off hasn’t stopped him from returning to the net before.

He skipped the entire 2008-09 season before returning to play for HC Paradubice in the Czech Republic. In 33 regular season games he posted a 0.922 SV%, and then went a step beyond that with a 0.937 playoff save percentage. Paradubice not only won the Czech Extraliga, but Hasek was named goalie of the year, player of the year and playoff MVP.

In 2010-11, Hasek made his first foray into the KHL. He struggled in four playoff games but was a good regular season goaltender, with a 0.915 SV% through 46 games for Moscow Spartak. This time around, he insists that Russia isn’t an option he’s interested in looking at:

I don't know about [the offers from the Russian clubs]. And, to be honest, I don't even care. I've had many offers from European clubs, but my answer was just: 'No, thank you.' That was not what I wanted.

Would Hasek still be able to play NHL hockey? His last few seasons with Detroit induce some skepticism.

2007-08 was Hasek’s last NHL season, and he wasn’t especially good. In 41 games he posted a 0.902 SV%, while net-minding partner Chris Osgood played 43 contests and managed a 0.914 SV%. Osgood replaced Hasek as the team’s starter in the post-season and backstopped the team to their last Stanley Cup. The season before, in 2006-07, he was good (0.913 SV%) but not stellar.

The likelihood is that Hasek’s best days, and even his medium days, are in the rearview mirror, and that betting on him to return with a starter-calibre performance is just too much to ask.

Then again, betting on a 44-year old Hasek one year removed from the game to dominate the Czech league the way he did would also have been fraught with risk. After all, it’s not like he’s been sitting at home during his year off; according to the NHL.com story linked above, he was somewhat busy:

Despite his most recent retirement, Hasek spent a busy year full of other sports: cycling, skiing, spinning, soccer and volleyball. His various activities drove him to cross Albania by bike, to ski on a glacier in the Alps with Czech Olympic downhill skiing medalist Sarka Zahrobska, and to compete with professional drivers while racing at the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Race in Barcelona. "I wanted to do some sport at least five times a week. I wanted to stay in a good shape to be ready to step into the hockey training again," Hasek told NHL.com in March.

We know the probability is that Hasek’s done. We won’t know what the actuality is unless an NHL team takes a chance on him.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.