Idle for nearly a year, goaltender Dominik Hasek is returning to the ice, just not to a National Hockey League rink near you.
Hasek, who won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings last June, is coming out of retirement to play for his former club in the top Czech league.
"I'm really glad I could sign a deal with this club," Hasek told a news conference Tuesday in Prague. "It's a club where I spent the most years. I've never even thought I could play for any other club in the Czech Republic. I'm looking forward to the next season."
Hasek, 44, is the newest member of HC Moeller Pardubice in the town where he was born and started his career.
While Hasek will be the oldest player in the league, Pardubice has an option to extend the contract by one more year.
"A year ago I said goodbye to the NHL, but not to hockey," Hasek said. "After a year when I was engaged in other activities I felt like returning."
Hasek helped Pardubice win the Czech title in 1987 and '89. He also played two games for Pardubice during the 2004-05 NHL lockout season.
"My return won't be easy," Hasek said. "We have big goals with Pardubice. I don't talk about my age but a return to top hockey will not be easy. I want to keep winning, I'm looking forward to it."
Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1983, Hasek joined the NHL in the 1990-91 season and won 389 games with the Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres and the Blackhawks. He was a six-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top goaltender and two-time Hart Trophy winner as the league's most valuable player.
Hasek previously retired in 2002 after winning his first Stanley Cup with Detroit but rejoined the NHL in the 2003-04 season.
He also led the Czech Republic to gold at the 1998 Olympics — and is now hoping for an encore at next year's Vancouver Olympics.
Hasek said he didn't know whether the Czech coaches are interested in having him on the team, but that playing in another Olympics "will be a motivation for me in training."