The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 11/18/14 at 11:41 AM ET
"By 2001, the [Sabres] had changed and I had to ask for a trade. It turned out to be the best decision of my career because I went to Detroit and was able to win the Cup." - Dominik Hasek 11/14/14
As I sat down to write this, I realized that many of the Sabres faithful are too young to remember seeing Dominik Hasek in his prime in Buffalo.
With that in mind, I'm going to sum up in a nutshell what it was like to be a Sabres fan when Hasek was at his peak.
It's as simple as this: When the Sabres would score first to take a 1-0 lead, you were about 95% confident that your team was going to get at least a point that night. Only a couple of unlucky deflections could alter that fate. He was that good.
I would always tell anyone who would listen that the only way to beat The Dominator in those days was to take shots from the point with traffic in front of the net. He was human, after all, and couldn't always stop what he couldn't see.
But despite all of the great memories -- from the May Day game, to 70 saves in Game 6 against New Jersey, to the 6 Vezina Trophies, to the Stanley Cup Finals -- I have to admit that I got a sickly feeling watching Hasek's Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech last night.
Maybe it was the sight of Chris Chelios, the former Red Wing who once replied "Because it's Buffalo - why wouldn't he leave?" when asked about Hasek forcing Darcy Regier to trade him to Detroit, being the one to bring out his plaque.
Perhaps it was seeing Mike Modano, who paraded the Stanley Cup around the ice in Buffalo on a fateful night 15 years ago, seated in the front row with Hasek. To top it off, Brett Hull presented the plaque before Modano's speech, which by the way was the best of the night.
Hasek deserved to be a Stanley Cup champion and rightfully became one. But it didn't happen in Buffalo, where he enjoyed the best seasons individually of his career. He was a legendary goalie but a temperamental man, and he left town on bad terms.
Last night, he gave thanks in his speech to seemingly everyone that was associated with the Sabres during his time here.
Everyone except Ted Nolan.
I won't rehash details of the Hasek-Nolan-John Muckler feud here, because it's already been done over and over again. It's very old news.
But it was difficult not to think about that, along with what transpired between Hasek and Regier in 2001, while some of the cast of characters associated with Buffalo's failure to win a Cup were right there with Hasek during his big night.
Perhaps there will be some closure on January 13th. That's when Hasek will be at First Niagara Center for a pregame jersey retirement ceremony.
It'll be a chance for Sabres fans to thank him for the great memories and to focus on what he accomplished in Buffalo, without the twinge-in-the-gut feeling from him realizing his dream of being a champion somewhere else.
It'll be fun to watch it all unfold without the likes of Hull, Modano or Chelios around.
Wait, the Sabres are playing Detroit that night?
Follow me on Twitter: @DaveDavisHockey
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: email@example.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]