Athletes share one common dream: to leave on top. They dream of having that coveted story book ending and ride off triumphantly into the sunset. While he may not have had the picture perfect ending, Dominik Hasek is leaving the game of hockey with another Stanley Cup ring.
Hasek, a Czech-born goalie, won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings a few days ago, albeit as a backup when he was replaced by Chris Osgood after two games in the opening series with Nashville. His career, however, looks far better than his final run.
The man known for the slinky spine and his manic flopping enjoyed arguably the most dominating stretch by a goalie ever during 1997 and 1998.
During that time frame, he captured the Hart Trophy as MVP in both years, adding a pair of Vezina's (best goalie) and Pearsons (MVP as voted by the players) as well. By doing that, Hasek became the first goalie since Jacques Plante to win the Hart and the only goalie ever to win it twice.
He leaves the game in the top ten in wins (389), goals against average, shots faced, saves and shutouts. He also is first all-time with a career save percentage of just over 92%.
That's a pretty incredible career for anyone, but even more so considering Hasek didn't get a chance to start until being traded from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Buffalo Sabres in 1992, at the age of 28.
Hasek's legacy will forever be that twisty, seizure-like sprawling. It will be covering the puck with his blocker and not his glove. And it will be for his domination. He leaves as arguably one of the five best goalies to play the game.
He dragged two mediocre Sabres teams to a Conference Final in 1998 and a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1999, the latter ending in Game 6 on a very controversial goal by Brett Hull. Hasek would go on to capture that elusive cup with Detroit on that star-studded 2002 team.
This all could become arguable, however, as Hasek has flirted with retirement in the past only to take the ice once more. Don't do it, Dom. You've got nothing left to prove. Now grab your hat and giddy up.
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