posted on Jul, 6 2004 @ 03:17 PM
OTTAWA (AP) - Dominik Hasek signed with the Ottawa Senators, who hope the 39-year-old goaltender can return to the form that made him one of the NHL's
greats. The Senators announced the signing Tuesday, ending weeks of speculation. They received permission from Detroit to speak with Hasek even before
the Czech star became an unrestricted free agent last Thursday.
"Ottawa was my first choice and I was very excited when my agent called back and said they were very interested in me,"
Hasek said at a news
conference. "And today I'm here."
The contract is for one year with an option for a second and will pay Hasek a base salary of $2 million with a bonus of $4 million if the Senators win
the Stanley Cup, according to The Canadian Press.
"I wanted to play for a team that I believe can win the Cup,"
Hasek said. "And I believe that with my help, all together, we can do it."
It's no surprise that Hasek liked the situation in Ottawa, given the Senators' talented roster and his relationship with general manager John Muckler,
who was the GM for five seasons in Buffalo when Hasek was at the peak of his career. The Senators welcomed Hasek by having Jason Spezza give up his
No. 39 to the goalie. Spezza will now wear No. 19.
It became clear the Senators were very interested in Hasek when they traded goalie Patrick Lalime to the St. Louis Blues during the NHL entry draft on
June 27. Hasek is a two-time league MVP and won six Vezina Trophies, given to the league's best goaltender, in nine years with the Sabres. He also led
the Czech Republic to the gold medal in the 1998 Nagano Olympics.
He joined the Red Wings in July 2001, winning his first Stanley Cup 11 months later and then retiring.
He ended his one year-retirement last season, but he played in just 14 games — going 8-3-2 with a 2.21 goals against average and a .907 save
percentage — with Detroit before a chronic groin injury ended his year. He had groin surgery this spring to fix the problem.
"It was disappointing last year but at the same time, I know I can still play,"
Hasek said. "I know I'll be coming back and be in better
shape than I was last year."
The Red Wings told Hasek they weren't interested in having him back, deciding to stick with Curtis Joseph and Manny Legace. Meanwhile, Muckler needed
to make a change in goal after Lalime played poorly in Ottawa's first-round playoff loss to rival Toronto this spring.
Muckler met with Hasek over a month ago to discuss the possibility of the goalie signing with Ottawa.
"The excitement on his face, it convinced me that this was the right way to go,"