September of 1993 I decided to take my girlfriend Stacy (My Wife today) to a Pre season Sabres game in the Memorial Auditorium against the NY Islanders. My cousin Carl and his girlfriend at the time went along with us. We sat just above the glass right behind the net in the visitor’s end of the ice. “An earshot” from the goal crease. They were wonderful seats in the Golds.
Mark Fitzpatrick of the Islanders started the game, and in the Sabres crease unknown backup goalie named Dominik Hasek. When the Sabres took the ice, I was extremely disappointed because I was looking forward to watching NHL Hall Of Fame goaltender Grant Fuhr play. I had never seen Grant play live that’s why we chose to purchase seats behind the net. When Hasek was announced as the starting goaltender for the game, I was disappointed and pouted a bit....but got over it.
The first period was exciting! The Sabres were on fire and so were we! We had a great time heckling Islander Goaltender Mark Fitzpatrick non-stop for the entire first period! Chants of "Swisspatrick” and “minor leaguer” filled the air .During breaks in play Fitzpatrick would look back at us... shake his head, and talk to himself. He must have thought we were "out of our minds" because this was a pre-season game. Fitzpatrick did not hide the fact that he was annoyed by our heckling. His reactions added fuel to the fire and we were not about to let up.Fitzpatrick gave up 3 terrible goals in the 1st period, and was pulled from the game during the first intermission….he didnt even return to the teams bench.
But that is not the reason for this story......
While I was goofing off really not fully paying attention to the game, my girlfriend Stacy was. Hockey was new to Stacy…she maybe had gone to 3 or 4 games in her life. She was still learning the rules of game as well as the names of the players. Partway thru the first period Stacy nudged me and said" Who is that guy the Sabres have in net? I told her "that's Dominik Hasek the Sabres back up goalie." "This guy is good" she exclaimed. I did not really respond to her statement and went back the more important job at hand of annoying Fitzpatrick.
At the midway point of the 2nd period, Stacy got my attention by her next response. ” Dave, this guy is better than Grant Fuhr". I responded in shock " better than Grant Fuhr? Better than Fuhr? How can you compare a “no name” backup goaltender to one of the greatest clutch goaltenders of all time? Grant Fuhr has 5 stanley Cup rings...how can you compare the two?" I told her that “ When Hasek has 5 Stanley Cup rings then i will say he is better until then lets not compare. She told me“ you will see this guy is better"....we agreed to disagree and enjoyed watching the Sabres beat the Islanders.
The 1993-94 season was a tough year for some of the Sabre star players. Pat LaFontaine suffered various injuries and missed most of the season as well as starting goalie Grant Fuhr. Dominik Hasek was forced to take over the starting goaltender duties half way thru the year and Hasek’s career never looked back.
He continued to deliver brilliance for an 12 additional seasons in the NHL (7 additional with the Sabres) earning 6 Vezina Trophy's as NHL's best goaltender, 1 Olympic gold Medal , 2 Stanley Cup rings & 2 Hart Trophy's as NHL MVP. Dominik also ranks 8th all-time in shutouts & 14th all time in wins. Hasek was the dominant goalie in the NHL ...and earned the nickname “The Dominator".
Hasek is now retired from the NHL but...to this day my wife reminds me that “she told me so”.
Guys isn’t it hard to admit when we are wrong? Especially when your Girlfriend or Wife knows less about the sport than you! Well....she was right…. and we enjoyed following his career together.
I now admit that today that Hasek was better….even though he didn’t earn 5 Stanley Cup rings.