Former NHL goaltender Dominik Hasek has already taken his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame and tonight he will watch as his jersey is raised to the rafters at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo.
Watch Red Wings at Sabres, live tonight on Sportsnet One at 7 p.m. ET.
Ex-NHL tough guy Matthew Barnaby spent parts of seven seasons with Hasek in Buffalo. Barnaby joined Brady & Walker on Sportsnet Radio 590 The Fan Tuesday to talk about Hasek’s outstanding career.
While Barnaby offered much in the way of praise for his former teammate, he also touched on the controversial firing of Ted Nolan, which Hasek may have had some influence on.
Nolan coached the Sabres for two seasons beginning in 1995-96. He was relieved of his duties following the 1996-97 campaign after winning the Jack Adams Award as the league’s coach of the year. His removal as head coach split the dressing room, with Barnaby and others backing their former coach and Hasek reportedly siding with then general manager John Muckler.
Barnaby on whether Sabres fans held any ill will towards Hasek:
“I think when he played there was a certain thing about his personality that maybe wore thin,” Barnaby told Brady & Walker. “There’s different things that happened. He wasn’t a big fan of Ted Nolan at the time.
“It was kind of a Muckler-Nolan controversy through the whole thing. Pat Lafontaine and myself, and probably half the team, were on Teddy’s side. Teddy was a beloved fan favourite from the people around Western New York. Dominik was a John Muckler guy.
“There was a very big divide and I think a lot of fans went through some tough times with Dom in that era.”
It’s all water under the bridge for Sabres fans now, according to Barnaby.
“When they look back I think they look at all the good that he did for Buffalo,” said Barnaby. “The chances he gave [the Sabres] to compete for years with a very average team. They look back and marvel at all the great saves and things he did for the city of Buffalo.”
Hasek was traded to the Detroit Red Wings in the summer of 2001 in exchange for Vyacheslav Kozlov and a first round draft choice that was eventually shipped to Atlanta and became Jim Slater.
Hasek played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, and Ottawa Senators over the course of his 16 year career. He led the league in save percentage six consecutive years during his tenure with the Sabres, and was named the winner of the Hart Trophy twice and captured the Vezina Trophy six times.
Hasek holds a career goals-against average mark of 2.20 and a .922 save percentage in 735 appearances.