Hey, Rocky watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!
The Detroit Red Wings have taken the hockey world by surprise by signing UFA goaltender Dominik Hasek to a one year deal. Terms of the contract have yet to be released.
This is pretty shocking stuff! I think the Wings need to give their heads a shake. After losing Steve Yzerman to retirement and Brendan Shanaham to free agency, the time was ripe for a youth movement in Hockeytown. It definitely begs questions concerning Manny Legace. After posting a record of 37-8-3 and a 2.19 GAA, his play dropped in the playoffs, and the Red Wings were upset by the Oilers in the first round. It was Legace's first stint as a starter after years of being a faithful backup.
Could off ice behavior factor into this decision?
By turning to Hasek, the Wings may be opening old wounds. The 41 year old former "Dominator" injured his left adjucator muscle while playing for Czechoslovakia in the 2006 Olympics and never returned between the pipes with the Ottawa Senators. His rehab was openly questioned in the media as his convalescence became a daily soap opera. Hasek would state one day that he felt he would be able to play in a week, and declare the next that he was unable to perform certain basic manoevers. In light practices, he would coil from bending his knees and then declare he would not play until he was 110% healthy. Come playoff time, certain teammates felt he could have stepped in at a moments notice. One well founded rumour had Hasek holding out for his bonus money up front before agreeing to suit up.
The Red Wings are familiar with this sideshow. He pulled similar stunts with them in 2004 after appearing in only 14 games The Wings had signed FA Curtis Joseph in goal for the 2002-03 season. Following a rough start the next season, Hasek came out of retirement and appeared in a handful of games before bailing on the team. By the new year, he was forced out of the picture as co-habitation with Joseph had become a major distraction in Motor City.
Curiously, Detroit's three Stanley Cup wins in the last decade came while being backstopped by different goalies. In 1997, Mike Vernon led the way. In 1998, current Wings tender Chris Osgood raised the Cup. In 2002 Hasek realized his dream of hoisting the mug. Hasek promptly retired after the season, a hero in Detroit.
The Red Wings are notorious for playing the blame-the-goalie game. They have ample ammunition this time. Time will tell whether Hasek's health becomes an issue again. His play between the pipes, the Wings have decided, is apparently less concerning than the five-hole between his ears!