Hockey

Dominik Hasek returns to Detroit

Dominik Hasek is heading back to Detroit after signing a one-year deal with the Red Wings.

Future Hall of Famer Dominik Hasek is heading back to Hockeytown, U.S.A.

The 41-year-old Czech goaltender, who played for the Ottawa Senators last season, signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings.

Hasek will be backed up by veteran Chris Osgood in Detroit, who parted company with Manny Legace earlier this summer. Legace had a strong 2005-06 regular-season campaign but struggled in the playoffs as the Red Wings bowed out in the first round to the Edmonton Oilers.

The Senators signed free agent goalie Martin Gerber to a three-year contract in early July, setting the stage for Hasek to leave Ottawa.

"I was talking to my wife and I said, 'That's it you know, that's it,'" Hasek said. "When I got the phone call from the Red Wings — you couldn't believe how surprised I was and how excited I was."

Regarded as one of the best goalies of his era, Hasek racked up an impressive 324-202-86 record over 638 career NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres and Red Wings during 14 seasons.

During his tenure with the Sabres, Hasek collected two league MVP awards and six Vezina trophies as the NHL's best goalie. He also backstopped the Czech Republic to Olympic gold in 1998.

Hasek first joined Detroit in 2001 after being traded by the Buffalo Sabres. He led the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup in 2002 before retiring later that summer.

In 2003-04 Hasek came out of retirement but played in just 14 games for Detroit before a groin injury ended his campaign.

After the lockout he signed with the Senators, posting a 28-10-4 record with a goals-against average of 2.09 and a .925 save percentage in 2005-06.

A groin injury forced Hasek to miss the last 25 games of the regular season, and all 10 of Ottawa's playoff games.

"I thought up to the Olympic break last year in Ottawa that he was playing as well as any goalie in the National Hockey League," Detroit general manager Ken Holland said on a conference call.

"I think at first when I called Dom he was a little bit surprised. Dom said he needed a bit of time to talk to his family and see how they felt and sort out whether he wanted to come back and play."

After sitting out the last few months last season, Hasek is anxious to get back to work.

"At this point it feels great," said Hasek. "I think there are small little things I want to improve, like losing 2-4 pounds will be helpful. Take great care every day before practice, after practice and I believe I can stay healthy.

"I don't care if I play 40, 50 games or how many games I play. All my focus is on the season but to be in the best shape for the playoffs."

with files from Canadian Press