BUFFALO, N.Y. – Dominik Hasek and Ted Nolan shook hands, talked and put years of bad blood behind them.
The all-star goaltender and the head coach met the first time Friday since a falling out 17 years ago cost Nolan his job with the Buffalo Sabres.
Nolan was brought back to coach the Sabres earlier this season, and Hasek is being inducted into the team’s hall of fame Saturday night. The six-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender was at First Niagara Center Friday, and the two former adversaries appeared to have put their past problems behind them with what Nolan called a “nice chat.”
“I still don’t know what really transpired back then,” Nolan said. “But back then is back then. He looks well, and he’s all happy and excited about being back here and we had a nice talk. We had some good times. Everybody looks at even one incident, and one incident doesn’t form a relationship.
“In the media I guess sometimes we blow things way out of proportion and make it look worse than it really was, and it wasn’t that much. People have disagreements all the time.”
Hasek, who spoke to reporters before Nolan, didn’t deny there were disagreements between him and his former coach back in 1997, when the goaltender pulled himself from one game claiming a knee injury and later deemed himself not healthy enough to start another.
“Whatever happened, what can I say about it?” Hasek said. “Sometimes you feel different way than the other person, sometimes you feel that your decision is better than his decisions. But I think on the ice that one or two years that we were together we done a good job for this organization.”
Under Nolan, and with Hasek between the pipes, the Sabres went from last place in 1995-96 to first in 1996-97. That second season Nolan won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year, and Hasek won the Hart Trophy as league MVP and Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender.
“If you look what Dominik did for this organization and even when my time was here—we had a lot of wins, but a lot of wins were based on his goaltending,” Nolan said. “He’s a world-class goaltender.”
Being a world-class goaltender is in Hasek’s past, and now he’s more than ready to push aside past problems with Nolan to focus on the present.
“Ted Nolan, he was my coach,” the 49-year-old said. “I know there was some questions (about) the relationship between me and him, but what can I say? I believe he’s the coach right now and he will help the team to improve. … I wish him good luck to improve the Sabres.”
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