Hockey

Dominik Hasek joins Senators

After weeks of speculation, the Ottawa Senators have signed star goaltender Dominik Hasek.

The Senators announced the signing of the 39-year-old Hasek at a Tuesday morning news conference.

"Ottawa was my first choice and I was very excited when my agent called back and said they were very interested in me," Hasek said at a news conference Tuesday.

The deal is a one-year contract worth $2 million US, plus an option year worth $3 million.

Hasek could make an extra $4 million next season if the Senators win the Stanley Cup. He also gets performance bonuses for games played and for each playoff series victory.

"I know this is a very good team and I believe, with my help, this team can win, and that's why I made the choice to become an Ottawa Senator," Hasek said.

Hasek rejoins Senators general manager John Muckler, who was the general manager in Buffalo for five seasons when Hasek was at the top of his game.

During his years with the Sabres, Hasek collected two league MVP awards and six Vezina Trophies as the NHL's top goalie. He also backstopped the Czech team to Olympic gold in 1998.

In 2002, after being dealt to the Detroit Red Wings the summer before, Hasek won his first Stanley Cup.

He retired in the off-season, but after a one-year absence from professional hockey, he returned to Red Wings. However, his comeback was far from triumphant.

The all-star netminder played in only 14 games last year before a chronic groin injury ended his disappointing return.

Hasek underwent groin surgery in April.

"It was disappointing last year but, at the same time, I know I can still play," Hasek said. "I know I'll be coming back and be in better shape than I was last year."

Muckler was convinced that Hasek was still passionate about playing top-level hockey after meeting with the netminder a month ago.

"The excitement on his face, it convinced me that this was the right way to go," said Muckler.

The Senators received permission from the Red Wings to speak with Hasek even before he became an unrestricted free agent last week, setting up speculation that Ottawa was in the market to trade its No. 1 goaltender, Patrick Lalime.

When Detroit opted not to re-sign Hasek, the trade buzz heated up even more.

Lalime, who was shaky in a first-round playoff loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in April, was eventually shipped to the St. Louis Blues in a trade during the NHL entry draft on June 27.

To make way for Hasek, up-and-coming Senators forward Jason Spezza gave up his No. 39 jersey. Spezza will now wear No. 19.

with files from Canadian Press