The infamous “no goal” of the 1999 Stanley Cup final still stings for Buffalo sports fans.
Not so much for Dominik Hasek.
Make no mistake, the goaltender was disappointed in the result. All great competitors are. But does it still sting?
“Not so much,” Hasek said. “It’s part of life. You cannot win every game. You cannot win the championship all you want. You try to do the best but sometimes you don’t win.
“We came so close. I know it was disappointing for everyone in the locker room, in the city, but it’s part of your life. Sometimes you win, sometimes you come close and you don’t win it the whole way. It was unfortunate night for us. It was disappointing. … I believe one day Buffalo will win the Cup. It will be with some other people and this city deserves to win one day. I don’t know when it’s going to happen but one day it will happen.”
Hasek met the media Friday morning in preparation for tonight’s induction into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. He will be honored in a pregame ceremony at First Niagara Center, around 6:50 p.m.
He also spoke with Ted Nolan for the first time since the two parted ways in 1997.
Nolan and Hasek had some moments of acrimony in the 1996-97 season. The Sabres won the Northeast Division but there was talk that Hasek backed then-General Manager John Muckler, who was feuding with Nolan, causing a riff within the organization.
Hasek ended up not playing for the Sabres in the playoffs with a knee injury and Buffalo was bounced by Philadelphia in the second round.
But all that is water under the bridge.
“I still don’t know what really transpired back then,” said Nolan, who talked with Hasek after the Sabres practiced Friday afternoon. “You know back then is back then. But he looks well. He’s all happy and excited about being back here and we had a nice talk. We had some good times and everybody looks at one incident. One incident doesn’t form a relationship. In the media sometimes I guess we blow things out of proportion and make it worse than it really was and it wasn’t that much. People have disagreements all the time.”
“Whatever happened it’s, what can I say about it,” Hasek said at his news conference before meeting with Nolan. “Sometimes you feel different way than the other person. Sometimes you feel that your decision is better than his decision but I think on the ice the one or two years we were together we’d done a good job for this organization and I’m looking forward to seeing him today and I wish him good luck to improve the Sabres.”
Hasek becomes the 42nd member of the team’s Hall of Fame. Next year he will be the seventh player to have his jersey hung from the rafters when his No. 39 is retired.
It’s another honor in a decorated and prolific career for the goaltender who has two Hart trophies and six Vezina trophies on his resume.
Hasek played for the Sabres from 1992-2001, coming to the organization from the Chicago Blackhawks.
He left the Sabres in 2001 and spent four seasons with the Detroit Red Wings – winning two Stanley Cup championships (2002, 2008), and one with the Ottawa Senators. At the time of his retirement in 2008 he ranked in the top 10 in several statistical categories.
Don’t forget the five NHL All-Star Games and the 1998 Olympic gold medal.
But Hasek said he never played hockey for the individual awards or for the chance to one day have his jersey hanging in the rafters. The honors from the Sabres are humbling and put his hockey career in perspective for Hasek.
“There are new goals in life and always something new to prove,” he said. “The hockey career is something behind me. What great years. What fantastic things, to do something you enjoy, you love to do and be very well paid and be around people you love and spend great time with them. However … every professional player has to retire one day. You wake and you enjoy your life different ways.”