Dominik Hasek, still recovering from the groin injury that bothered him the second half of last season, said he expects to take part in training camp practices beginning next week.
"I will go on the ice Monday," Hasek said Tuesday. "The first couple of practices I'll be on my own. By the end of (next) week I should be on the ice with my teammates and working hard."
Hasek missed a couple of games during last season's playoff run because of the groin injury, and he had hopes it would heal with offseason rest. That wasn't the case, and he underwent surgery in mid-August.
"I talked to the doctors in Toronto (after the playoffs in June), and they said not to do anything for four weeks," Hasek said. "It healed a bit. It felt much better but I didn't think it was 100 percent. So I changed my mind, I went to Germany and I had the surgery."
Hasek doesn't think the recovery time would have been a problem in most years. But with only 10 weeks between seasons, time wasn't a luxury.
"It was the shortest (offseason) ever," he said. "Unfortunately, with an injury like that, I could have used a little more time (to heal), but I hope I will be OK by the time I get on the ice.
"It feels good now, but I can not tell how it will be until I really go on the ice and try to do what I usually do. I've done some workouts and I feel comfortable."
Once healthy, Hasek will start his farewell tour through the National Hockey League. He announced last summer that he would only play one more year. That's a little unusual, but Hasek is satisfied that the timing of his decision was right.
"I didn't want to start any rumors, or get any questions from reporters (about his plans)," he said. "This way, my teammates know it. My friends know it. I think it's better for the organization and the team."
As a result, the topic of Hasek's impending retirement hasn't been a subject of conversation so far in the Buffalo Sabres locker room.
"We didn't talk about it too much," Hasek said. "We've talked more about the season -- how we feel, how they feel. We talked more about hockey. We didn't talk about retirement much."
Hasek's main reminders about his coming departure from North America probably will come from the media and fans. He is trying to block thoughts such as "This is the last training camp of my career" out of his mind for the moment.
"I don't think about it. The more I think about it, I can't play at the top of my game," Hasek said. "Once the season starts, I'll probably think about it everywhere I go. I'll realize it will be the last game I play in a (particular) city."
Hasek said he realizes he has set himself up for a season with high expectations. Assuming he's healthy, the goalie still ranks as one of the top players in the league. The Sabres are hoping that he can lead them to the Stanley Cup -- the one thing missing on his resume.
"It's very important," Hasek said about winning the Cup. "I know that there are 82 games first. We haven't made the playoffs yet. I'm more focused on the regular season. We want to be a little bit better than last year. We were one step from winning everything. I'm sure everybody in the locker room wants a little bit more. But first we have 82 games, and we have to be ready."
If the Sabres qualify for the playoffs, Hasek will get one last chance to make up for the bitter ending of the 1999 playoffs provided by Brett Hull's controversial Cup-winning goal.
"What happened last year is over," he said. "I was mad for a couple of days. Only when I get a question from the media or the fans do I think about that last goal. It's over for me. They won. There is always the next chance. Unfortunately, it's not so easy to get to the finals. But it's seven months until the playoffs start. We have to get there first."