Sunday, May 27, 2012

Where will Hašek end up?

"I haven't received any offers that interest me, so I've decided that I won't play hockey this year. But I'm by no means finished. If I see that my handsand legs are still capable, I think, why run away from it? I'll leave that open."

Could Hašek be headed back to Detroit?
When he said it a year ago, it raised some eyebrows. But now, Dominik Hašek is showing that he wasn't kidding, as he is saying that he intends to return to active playing in the 2012-13 season, at the age of 47.

"Nothing has changed from what I had in mind last year," he recently told Czech newspaper Sport upon return from an overseas trip in which he apparently talked to some NHL clubs. "But I haven't decided anything yet, so I'll wait and see. I'll probably make a decision in June."

It was assumed that, if Hašek did return, it would probably be to the KHL, where he posted a league-leading 7 shutouts in 2010-11, or the Czech Extraliga. The NHL seems a bit of a stretch. After all, in his last stint there, four years ago, Hašek was a backup with the Detroit Red Wings. However, the North American circuit seems to be what the Dominator is eyeing. European options don't seem to interest him.

"I have heard from a variety of clubs in Europe, and had many a phone call. I politely thanked them. I will not say who, why, how. I don't think it will happen. It's not what I want."

Regarding a return to the KHL, he said, "I don't know what's going on over there. Nothing against them, but I'm not interested."

With no disrespect to the goaltending legend, a starting job in the NHL at age 47 has to be almost totally out of the question. The question then becomes, what would be the best backup situation for him?

One of the possible destinations being mentioned is Detroit, where he has done three tours of duty already. Presumably, he'd be backing up Jimmy Howard in that scenario. Detroit already has a Czech goaltender in its system, Petr Mrázek, who is expected to battle for the team's backup job next year.

Mrázek, whose play at last year's World Junior Championship has many Czech fans hailing him as "the next Dominator", does not seem to view Hašek's possible presence as competition, however.

"If Dominik returned (to Detroit) it would help me a lot," said the 20-year-old netminder. "His experience is vast, so it would help me to watch him in training camp, in practice sessions, and in games. If I could learn from him, it would help my career. I don't know what the intentions of the club are, but I would not view it as competition, I would view it as help."

Another team being mentioned a lot is the Tampa Bay Lightning. The club's recent goaltending woes are almost as well-known as its general manager, Hall-of-Famer Steve Yzerman, who is a former teammate of Hašek.

"My philosophy is that I want to find a Hall-of-Fame-quality goalie," said Yzerman. "It's not easy, it takes time. But we want to get someone like that through the draft or through the free-agency market. So far, we don't have one."

Other teams that have been mentioned include the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks. Whether it's one of those clubs or someone else remains to be seen, but so far, Sport is even reporting that his wife doesn't know at this point.

All quotes are from


  1. I'm all for another Czech goalie in the NHL but this has to be highly unlikely even as a backup goalie. I'd be surprised if Mrazek earned the backup role in Detroit next season. I think he'll be in the AHL or ECHL if I had to guess. I'm hoping Salak finally gets a chance at an NHL gig. Just curious, what is the status of Jakub Kovar... seems like he's ready for a different league than the extraliga next season. Popperle and Stepanek are in the KHL, Schwarz in Finland... just thinking he must be in demand to move... any ideas?

  2. I would be surprised if Mrázek was lower than the AHL next year, and it's usual that a team would rather a top goaltending prospect get playing time in the minors rather than sitting on the bench in the NHL, so I would bet on Grand Rapids. So far, it doesn't seem Kovář is going anywhere, though next year's KHL rosters are far from being filled. As for Hašek, I don't even think he would unseat Martin Růžička in Pardubice right now.