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Six-time Vezina winner Hasek retires

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings

Dominik Hasek, who won six Vezina trophies and a pair of Hart trophies among other accolades during his 15 NHL seasons, has decided to retire.

Hasek, 47, last played with Spartak Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League in 2010-11. He had been attempting to return to the NHL, but couldn't interest a team in his services.

"There were training camps starting in the AHL and I wanted to participate," Hasek said. "I needed to play pre-season games, to be part of the hockey environment (in North America). I was in touch with one NHL club and I had pretty good feelings about it, but then they called my agent and told him there was no interest from their side anymore."

Hasek believed he was still in good enough shape to play despite sitting out the 2011-12 season, but understands that his age and inactivity were big reasons for his inability to find a job in North America.

"I understand their reasons," he said. "I am 47 and I haven't played hockey for the entire season. But that's why I told the GMs: Give me a chance to play in the AHL for one month. You could watch me there and if you see I still have it, you can take me up to the NHL. And if not, you can kick me wherever you want."

Hasek was originally selected by the Blackhawks in the 10th round of the 1983 draft and played parts of two seasons in Chicago before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres, where he began to engineer a Hall of Fame-caliber career.

In nine seasons with the Sabres, Hasek became arguably the best goaltender in the league, winning the Vezina five times in a six-season span from 1993-99. He also is the only goalie to win back-to-back league MVPs, in 1996-97 and 1997-98. He also won the Ted Lindsay Award in both of those seasons.

Buffalo traded Hasek to the Detroit Red Wings in 2001, and he led the Wings to the Stanley Cup in 2002, going 16-7 with six shutouts and a 1.86 goals-against average. He announced his retirement after the finals, but sat out just one season. Hasek returned to the Red Wings for the 2003-04 season, and after a work stoppage signed with the Ottawa Senators in 2005-06. He returned to the Red Wings for his final two NHL seasons, serving as Chris Osgood's backup on the Wings' 2008 Stanley Cup championship team.

Hasek finished his NHL career 11th all-time with 389 wins and tied for sixth with 81 shutouts. He also had a 2.20 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in 735 games.

He was a six-time member of the NHL First All-Star Team and skated in six All-Star Games.

Hasek sat out the 2008-09 season, but returned at age 44 with HC Pardubice in the Czech Republic, the team with which he started his career. He posted a 2.26 GAA in 33 games and helped the team win the league title, in the process earning league player of the year and playoff MVP. The next season he signed with Spartak Moscow, where he had a 2.48 GAA in 46 games and was named to the KHL All-Star Game.

Hasek's international career was also impressive. He represented Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic in four Olympics, including backstopping the team to a memorable gold medal in 1998. In six games in Nagano, Japan, Hasek had a 0.97 GAA and a .961 save percentage. He also stopped Canada's Theo Fleury, Ray Bourque, Joe Nieuwendyk, Eric Lindros and Brendan Shanahan in a shootout to give the Czech Republic a victory in the semifinal game, then shut out Russia 1-0 in the gold-medal game.

Hasek said he wasn't sure of the next phase of his life, but said coaching hockey was not on his list.

"I have to go on and find new motivation," he said. "I would like to do something creative, something completely new. The only thing I know is that it won't be in hockey. Coaching or working as a manager is not the thing I would like to do."

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