Dominik Hasek still believes he can make the cut in the NHL, but if the 47-year-old goaltender is able to join a team, it won’t be with the one he led to the 1999 Stanley Cup finals, the Buffalo Sabres.
Sabres general manager Darcy Regier told the Buffalo News Thursday that Hasek contacted the team and had meetings with Regier and coach Lindy Ruff about a month ago but that Buffalo will not be pursuing the free agent.
“One thing I am sure of: He has no doubt in his mind that he can play,” Regier told the paper. “I think it probably gives him a little bit of lift seeing somebody like (Martin) Brodeur play at 40 in the Stanley Cup final. I know better than to question Dom’s desire and his ability. Unfortunately, it’s not something that was going to fit here.”
Having most recently played for the KHL’s Spartak Moscow in 2010-11, Hasek is reportedly interested in returning to the NHL, a league he left in 2008, and could be seeking a multiyear contract.
In 735 career NHL games, Hasek amassed a record of 389-223-95 with a 2.20 GAA and .922 save percentage. A six-time Vezina Trophy and two-time Hart Trophy winner, he won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2001-02.
The oldest player in the NHL is 42-year-old Teemu Selanne. Goaltender Dwayne Roloson, also 42, played for the Tampa Bay Lightning last year but is currently an unsigned free agent.
Guelph, Ont., native Logan Couture, a star on the San Jose Sharks, grew up as a big fan of Hasek and the Sabres. He’s heard of his onetime hero’s return bid.
“What is he, 49 now? It’ll be tough,” Couture says. “But he was a great goalie in his day, so if he’s able to do it, it’ll be fun to play against him.”
The Sabres No. 1 goalie, Ryan Miller, will be 32 when the 2012-13 season begins. Miller’s backup likely will be 24-year-old Jhonas Enroth.