He terrorized enemy shooters for years in Buffalo with his wild acrobatics and nigh-unbeatable glove, and now, former Sabre Dominik Hasek’s number will take a permanent place in the rafters of First Niagara Center in Western New York.
The Sabres will retire Hasek’s No. 39 jersey at a ceremony in Buffalo on Jan. 13 before a game against the Detroit Red Wings. It’s yet another honour for the award-winning ‘Dominator,’ who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in June.
Hasek played an unorthodox style rarely seen in today's NHL, but he was also hands-down one of the best goalies in league history. And while he had plenty of great moments in a Sabres jersey, his greatest moment was also one of the best by any goaltender in history.
It was April 27, 1994, and Hasek's Sabres were facing rookie Martin Brodeur's New Jersey Devils in the playoffs. Neither goalie would give an inch in a 0-0 game that lasted until the fourth overtime. The Devils were taking it to Buffalo hard, but finally, the Sabres' Dave Hannan put one past Brodeur. Hasek finished the game with a record 70-save shutout in 125 minutes and 43 seconds of hockey. Brodeur stopped 49 of 50 pucks at his end of the rink.
That single-game record still stands today.
Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks and traded to the Sabres in 1992, Hasek spent nine seasons with Buffalo before he was traded in 2001 to Detroit, where he won Stanley Cups in 2002 and 2008. He also spent 2005-06 playing goal for the Ottawa Senators before rejoining the Red Wings a year later.
Hasek tried to retire after each of his two Stanley Cup victories, but he found his way back to hockey each time. His first “retirement” lasted the 2002-03 season before he returned to the Red Wings the following year. Then, after bowing out of the NHL in 2008, Hasek played parts of two more seasons in Europe, until his body finally couldn't keep up anymore.
He finished his career with 389 career wins in 735 regular season games played, with a .922 save percentage and 2.20 goals-against average over that span. His playoff numbers were even better, as he boasted 65 wins, a .925 save percentage and a 2.02 goals-against average through 119 post-season appearances.
Hasek was one of the most decorated goalies of the last 30 years, and while his Cups came in Detroit, he won most of his individual hardware with Buffalo. The Czech-born goalie won back-to-back Hart Trophies and Lester B. Pearson Awards in 1997 and 1998, and snagged a whopping six Vezina Trophies (in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1997, 1999 and 2001). He also earned the William M. Jennings Trophy in 1994 and again in 2001.
In international competition, Hasek won an Olympic gold medal in 1998 with the Czech Republic in Nagano, Japan, and represented his country at the Winter Games in 2002 and 2006 as well.
Hasek’s jersey will be the seventh number retired by the Sabres, joining Gilbert Perreault (No. 11), Rick Martin (No. 7), Rene Robert (No. 14), Tim Horton (No. 2), Danny Gare (No. 18) and Pat LaFontaine (No. 16).
Hasek will also be the first goaltender to have his number retired in Buffalo.
The Sabres produced this video dedicated to Hasek and his Hall of Fame induction last spring.
Check it out.