Kukla's Korner

23 Intently Staring Goalies

Cabernets and Goalies—both improve with age?

It’s the Stanley Cup Finals, and the goalie mot talked abut is…. Dominik Hasek!  Hasek wants to make a return to the NHL, and he’s purportedly talking to at least two (depending on who’s reporting, pick two of three: Detroit, Buffalo and Tampa Bay) teams about mounting his comeback.

There’s been a lot of talk about how goalies have started to last until they are on the edge of 40.  And I’m surprised that Johnny Bowers’ indeterminately aged career hasn’t been brought up, other than it was a different game 40-50 years ago.


But think about the Detroit years of Hasek’s career in the NHL. There’s a reason why Manny Legace made his pension numbers—Hasek spent more than a bit of time on the trainer’s table, healing up from his groin injuries. Would anyone want to build a defense around Hasek, just to have his aging groin go POP! 14 games into the season? That’s quite a risk to take. Maybe a team wants to bring in Hasek as a crowd attraction, but he’s not going to be an attraction in the team suite for 60-odd games. Any team that looks at Hasek is going to have weigh the possibility of both having to scramble for goaltending and a new marketing plan.

Hasek’s “style”, which has been described as being from the “shriek and lunge” school of goaltending, depends on both joint mobility and muscle, ligament, and tendon strength associated with the joint and the surrounding musculature. Even if Hasek is a physical outlier, all those joints have been aging, and that aging isn’t linear.

Remember that MasterCard ad with the tagline “Having a Slinky for a spine?  Priceless”. I had a number of Slinkys as a kid—they’re great for freaking out the dogs and teaching properties of momentum. The problem with a Slinky is that after a few hundred times of sending it down the stairs, out the second storey window, and other practical experiments in Physics, the coils on the Slinky get intertwined. And once that happens, you can’t get the Slinky undone. Think about that in a goalie. Urgh….

However, the talk on the street has varied from interest to positive:

Goalies asked by Kevin Allen of USA Today think it’s a go:

As Dominik Hasek contemplates a return to the NHL at 47, the prevailing sentiment around the league is that if any goalie could cheat the aging process, he could.

“With Dominik Hasek, you can’t count anything out,” New Jersey Devils goalie Johan Hedberg said on the eve of his team’s appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. “He didn’t play last year, but he had (seven) shutouts in the (Kontinental Hockey League) when he was 45.”

Hasek was 43 in 2008 when he won his second Stanley Cup as Chris Osgood’s backup in Detroit. He was 37 when he won the Cup as a Detroit starter in 2002.

“It would not surprise me to see him come in an A1 or A2 role where he could play here and there,” said Hedberg, 39. “But I think it would be tough for him to carry the load for a full season.


And could Hasek consider another team—joining Jagr and the Flyers as a backup for Bryzgalov? From Sarah Baiker at CSNPhilly:

Hey, Jaromir Jagr did it. So why not another hockey legend of the ‘90s?

According to a Czech report (via a few tweets from CBC’s Elliotte Friedman) 47-year-old goalie Dominik Hasek is in North America and wants to return to the NHL.

“The Dominator” hasn’t played in the league since the 2007-08 season, when he appeared in 45 games with the eventual Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. Of course, he’s best known for his lengthy and impressive career with the Buffalo Sabres, which spanned from 1992-2001.

Since ’08, Hasek has played primarily in the Czech Extraliga and KHL. Most recently, he spent the 2010-11 season with Spartak Moscow of the KHL, playing 46 games and posting a 2.48 goals-against average. If he were to make an NHL return, he’d be the league’s oldest active player. (Dwayne Roloson of the Tampa Bay Lightning, also a goaltender, is the current oldest, at 42.)

Aside from the obvious feelings of nostalgia Hasek’s return would evoke, the news might actually be of particular interest to Flyers fans – yes, we’re gonna go there.

There’s a school of thought that suggests the Flyers ought to dish Sergei Bobrovsky and bring in a veteran back-up goaltender this off-season. Names like Martin Biron (see story), Tomas Vokoun and Scott Clemmensen have been tossed around (see other story). So why not add Hasek to the mix?



Filed in: | 23 Intently Staring Goalies | Permalink
  Tags: dominik+hasek, goalie, nhl


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About 23 Intently Staring Goalies

23 Intently Staring Goalies comes from the 23 close-up photos of goalies that used to line the walls of my office.

On the good side, it kept down interruptions, but it also made sure I had to leave my trash outside my door if I wanted it picked up.

I've been watching and analyzing goaltenders for going on 40 years. Some of that was spent drawing goalies on my grade 8 math homework. Then it was taking my card decks and printouts to Indianapolis Racer games. Luckily, the Internet took off, and by 1991 I was half of the duo that would ultimately become the Plaidworks hockey mailing lists. I wrote "Handicapping the Goalies' for the San Jose Sharks mailing list, and took a lot of photos of goalies in action. I have around 5000 slides of mostly goaltenders in action from 1989 through 2001 from the WHL, IHL and NHL. Since I've gone digital, I've added about 10,000 more images to the library. During summers and when the league went dark, I was reading through multiple SF By area news papers, tracking ice hockey from the 1917 recreational leagues up through the California Seals.

We'll be talking about goalies and goaltending. We'll talk about whats going on now, who's in the system, and when the doldrums hit, I'll haul something out of the big bag of history, or something from the photo archives. We'll talk about who's hot and why, and who's not and what they can do to get back on track. We'll take a look at the trends in scouting goalies, and why a style may work for one team but not another. I'll battle with my dictation software to get it to understand Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky.

It should be interesting--hope you want to come along for the ride!