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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Departing Dominator

   July 1, 2001 -- You could argue that Buffalo has had two pro major sports players who are the best ever to play their particular position. One is Bruce Smith. The other is Dominik Hasek.

   Hasek was the one who left Buffalo on this date, when he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings. the Saes received a first-round draft pick, forward Slava Kozlov and future considerations for one of the greatest goaltenders who ever lived.

   The deal ended a spectacular if sometimes stormy nine-year career in Buffalo. He was named the league's most valuable player in 1997 and 1998. The Sabres still wanted to keep him, but Hasek wanted out.

    "In the period between the (March 13) trade deadline and the playoffs, Dominik asked to meet with me and indicated at that time that he would not be returning for another season," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said, noting that Hasek indicated he would retire or play in the Czech Republic if the Sabres tried to hold on to him. "He never came to us with any list [of conditions under which he would stay]. He was very clear -- he wanted a fresh start."

   For someone who was talking about retirement as many as a 10 years ago, the goalie can't shake the sport. Hasek spent two years in Detroit, left to go to Ottawa for a year, and then went back to Detroit for two more seasons. He went on to play in his native Czech Republic, and recently signed a contract to play in Russia next season.

--- Budd Bailey

   This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Jim Washington, Braves forward - 1943.

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