Dominik Hasek, one of the most intimidating and unusual goaltenders in the history of the game, retired Monday after an outstanding NHL and international career.
Hasek, 43, made the announcement at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, five days after winning his second Stanley Cup as a member of the Red Wings. While he has announced his retirement before, the goaltender said this time, it's final.
"It's about motivation," said Hasek. "I'm glad I can make my decision. I'm not ready to compete [anymore] on the highest level."
Born in Pardubice, Czechoslovakia, Hasek won six Vezina Trophies as the NHL's top goaltender, two Hart Trophies as the league's most valuable player and an Olympic gold medal with the Czech Republic at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.
Hasek posted a 389-223-82 record overall with Buffalo, Detroit and Ottawa, with 81 shutouts and a career goals against average of 2.20. He is tied for sixth in shutouts and 10th in wins.
The numbers are made even more impressive by the fact Hasek didn't come to North America until seven years after he was drafted, not gaining a foothold as an NHL starter until age 28.
"He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Detroit general manager Ken Holland said." And one of the greatest goaltenders to ever play the game."
Hasek's career didn't quite end the way he envisioned, even with the championship.
Struggled in playoffs
After an impressive regular season, Hasek struggled in the team's first-round games in Nashville, and Chris Osgood replaced him in Game 4. Osgood played every minute the rest of the way.
Hasek was drafted by Chicago in the 10th round in 1983 and first gained notice among North American hockey fans at the Canada Cup tournament in 1984 and 1987.
He nearly helped the Czechs topple a high-powered Canadian team in a round-robin game in 1987, making 36 saves in a 4-4 result.
Hasek came to the Blackhawks for the 1990-91 season. With Ed Belfour established as the team's No. 1 goaltender, Hasek played in 25 regular-season games over two seasons.
Chicago sent Hasek to Buffalo on Aug. 7, 1992, for goalie Stéphane Beauregard and a draft pick later used to select Eric Daze, a trade that would ultimately rank as one of the most lopsided in NHL history.
Hasek first had to split time with future Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr in Buffalo, but took over as starter in 1993-94. He made a splash that year, winning the first of his Vezinas with a 1.95 goals-against average, the first time a starter had posted under 2.00 since Bernie Parent of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1974-75.
The goalie gained notice for his style, falling to the ice in all manner of positions to stop the puck, frequently without his goal stick. Over time, he made an impression off the ice with his blunt and wry manner.
While not physically imposing, Hasek planted himself firmly in the heads of NHL shooters and gained the nickname Dominator.
He was most spectacular between 1996 and 2002, recording 46 shutouts and winning four more Vezina awards as well as twice taking the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.
The goaltender brought a decent but hardly awe-inspiring Sabres squad to the Eastern Conference final in 1998 and to the Stanley Cup final the following year, where they lost to the Dallas Stars in six games.
Hasek vehemently protested that Brett Hull had been in the crease on the Cup-winning goal, but the goal stood.
He was nearly unbeatable at the 1998 Olympics, duelling with Patrick Roy in a memorable shootout win over Canada. The Czech Republic would beat Russia 1-0 for the gold medal, Hasek's second shutout of the tournament.
After a bitter loss to Pittsburgh in the 2001 playoffs, Buffalo entered a rebuilding mode. Hasek was sent that summer to Detroit for Slava Kozlov and a draft pick.
Hasek maintained his standard in 65 games with the Red Wings and then recorded six shutouts in the playoffs to win his first Stanley Cup as Detroit beat Carolina in the 2002 final.
Owner Mike Ilitch on Monday pointed to Hasek's poise and play in a gruelling series win over Vancouver in 2002 as one of his most cherished memories of the player.
Hasek then announced his retirement, which lasted one year. He returned to the NHL but in his next two seasons was as much a distraction as an asset to the Red Wings and Senators, respectively.
Injury kept him from Olympics
After managing just 14 games with Detroit due to injury in 2003-04, he signed with Ottawa and played well for the Senators after the 2005 NHL lockout.
He suffered a groin injury at the 2006 Torino Olympics while representing the Czech Republic, and despite teasing fans and media that he was getting close to playing, he never started again for the Senators.
Hasek said he wanted a chance to prove himself again after the disappointment in Ottawa, but that it was Detroit general manager Ken Holland who was most interested in his services.
The Red Wings welcomed him back before the 2006 season and were not disappointed.
Hasek stayed healthy and enjoyed a playoff campaign that rivalled his best performances, but the Detroit skaters couldn't overcome the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference final.
Hasek, married with two children, said he'll split his time between Europe and North America. He has his own clothing line, while his son Michal plans to play hockey at Michigan State.With files from the Canadian Press