Does anyone know who the NHL's Most Valuable Player for 1996-97 was? When Dominik Hasek, league MVP, skated onto the ice for his first game at home, it certainly didn't seem like he was the MVP. Almost the whole crowd expressed their opinion in a negative way.
Sure, some people may think he was the reason behind firing Ted Nolan, but what would happen if we had Nolan and not Hasek? Would we even have another chance at winning a division title?
Yes, Nolan coached the team to the division title, but he's not a goalie. Steve Shields played wonderfully in the playoff span of four weeks. If he played 67 games, 4,036 minutes, as Hasek did during the regular season, who knows how he would feel at playoff time?
I hope all you Sabres fans who don't like Hasek saw the first regular-season game in St. Louis. Stopping 33 out of 34 shots shows you why he is the most valuable player and that he deserves to stay in Buffalo. About three-quarters of those shots were almost impossible, but somehow Hasek stopped them, not giving any player an opening to shoot at.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to think long and hard about what you say the next time you see Dominik Hasek on the ice. Maybe the reason he let in some easy goals at home is because he knew the fans weren't behind him 100 percent.
On the road, the crowd doesn't say anything to him, they are just amazed at his performance. They don't care who the coach is, but when they see Hasek blank some of the best players in the league, time after time, they understand why Hasek is the MVP, whether Buffalo fans do or not.