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The Malik Report

Methods of Hasekian madness

InGoal Magazine's Kevin Woodley spoke with Dominik Hasek's long-time goalie coach, Mitch Korn, about reining in Hasek's wild ways to translate to NHL play and "The Dominator's" strengths in the net, and the most fascinating part of the article for me confirms a "myth."

So very regularly during his tenure(s) with Detroit, my friends and I would talk about Hasek, and they'd insist that he was completely unpredictable, while I'd insist that Hasek did in fact have a style of play and a set of tools in his toolbox--just different ones than any other goaltender. Korn tells Woodley that this is in fact true:

“Everything he did had a purpose. It didn’t look like it had a purpose, but it had a purpose,” he said. “We were coming out of the skate save era but he was very good at the same thing we are doing today – sealing the ice, taking away vertical space. He was very flexible and he had a pretty wide butterfly but the way he took away vertical space on diagonals with stacks – nobody but Brodeur has ever done it like him.”

Ray Emery recognized it as a rookie backup behind Hasek in Ottawa in 2005-06.

“He’s kind of unorthodox but he takes away time and space and forces guys to make good shots,” Emery said. “Even though he’s doing a two-pad slide instead of a butterfly, it’s still the same objective: take away the bottom of the ice and make guys put the puck over him. He’s really good at taking lanes away too. He reads plays and that’s why you’ll see sometimes he’ll come flying out if he sees a guy on a breakaway has his head down, or if a guy is cutting down the wing, he’ll cut that lane off between the D-man and the near post. These things are all calculated, it’s not like he’s just flopping around in there.”

The best thing Hasek did was to give shooters the net and then take it away, and that's exactly what Hasek told Woodley he was trying to do:

“You have to be smart,” Hasek told InGoal during his final season with the Red Wings. “If you give them something to shoot at, you can set them up for failure.”

Dominik Hasek, shown here in his final NHL years with the Red Wings, didn't always look like the rest of the NHL, but his ability to read the game led to a lot of easy saves like this one. (InGoal photo by Adrian Lam)

Some of the saves that resulted were only possible because of his Gumby-like flexibility and Jedi powers of concentration and anticipation, but Hasek worked hard to perfect his methods. They included never giving up on a save and always having one last limb (or even his head) left to throw out at a shooter. Even the famous barrel roll was planned. As he told InGoal, it was actually a well planned save selection he used in very specific circumstances. The barrel roll was easy to brush off as a fluke if you only saw it executed once, but after watching Hasek use it over and over again – and use the same “technique” in the same save situations each time – you realize there is a science to the style.

“I was doing it in 80s, I do it in 90s, I do it in this century, it’s nothing new,” Hasek said. “I know I was doing it in the Czech Republic in the 80s and I don’t know if some older goalie taught me or if I seen it. It was too many years ago.”

Woodley continues the tehchnical conversation, and I find it to be absolutely fascinating, but you might not.

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.