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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Double play

    June 25, 1998 -- You win one Most Valuable Player award for a professional sports league, and you are a very, very good player. Do it twice, and you are an all-time great. Dominik Hasek became an all-time great on this date.

   The Buffalo Sabres' netminder won the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP for the second straight season in 1998. If there was a doubt before, Hasek's ticket to the Hockey Hall of Fame was officially punched.

   The season was something of a tribute to the way Hasek could avoid distractions. He was coming of a crazy 1997 summer in which he went public with his ill feelings toward then-Sabres coach Ted Nolan. That made him less than popular with the Sabre fan base despite his work in 1996-97 in helping the Sabres reach the divisional title.

    "To win it the first time was something special, but this year was different than any other year," Hasek said. "I faced something new at the beginning of the season. The fans in Buffalo didn't welcome me. They booed me. It was a completely different season. I never thought in September, October and November that I'd be here with the Hart and Vezina Trophies."

   Hasek's eventful season also included a gold medal in the Winter Olympics for the Czech Republic. He was a runaway winner in the voting for the Hart Trophy, finishing well ahead of Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Teemu Selanne of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Hasek also captured the Vezina Trophy, which goes to the league's best goalie.

   "It feels great," Hasek said about being the first goalie to win the Hart twice. "In the '80s and the beginning of the '90s, the goaltenders faced Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. It was difficult for goalies to win the trophy then."

--- Budd Bailey

   This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Marcus Stroud, Bills' lineman - June 25, 1978.

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