Done Dominating: Hasek Retires

After months of speculation and weeks of rumors, Dominik Hasek, superstar netminder brought to Detroit for the lone purpose of winning the Stanley Cup, is hanging up the skates.

Hasek, thought by many to be the greatest goaltender in the NHL, came to the Red Wings from the Buffalo Sabres in a trade last summer, part of Detroit’s reloading effort after their first-round loss to Los Angeles in previous spring. Along with summer acquisitions Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull and Fredrik Olausson, chose to come to Hockeytown for the chance to win the Stanley Cup.

The Stanley Cup was the lone remaining goal for Hasek, who had already claimed six Vezina Trophies and two Hart Trophies with Buffalo. Speculation reguarding his return to the Red Wings began during the Winter Olympics in February and heated up after the Red Wings claimed the Stanley Cup two weeks ago.

With Hasek’s retirement, the Red Wings are left without a starting goaltender. They are expected to sign any of the free agent netminders available this summer, a list that includes Curtis Joseph of the Maple Leafs, Ed Belfour of the Stars, Byron Dafoe of the Bruins and Mike Richter of the Rangers.

Hasek’s announcement, which was made at an 11:30 AM press conference at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday, comes on the heels of the retirement of longtime Detroit coach Scotty Bowman.

Hasek said that the Red Wings knew when the came to Detroit that he would play for one more year, and that he would decide about his future after that. He also said that he made the decision five days after the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, after sitting down with his wife to talk about their options.

Hasek will return to his native Czech Republic to raise his children.

Czech-ing Out?

With his lone remaining goal acomplished, Red Wings netminder Dominik Hasek is reportedly ready to call it a career and return to his native Czech Republic.

Hasek, brought to Detroit last summer for the single purpose of winning the Stanley Cup, accomplished that mission this spring, leading the Red Wings to their third Stanley Cup Championship is six years, Hasek’s first.

No official announcement has been made, however two unnamed NHL sources informed the Buffalo News that Hasek intends to retire. Hasek had previously met with agent Rich Winter and Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

“I know he’s leaning one way. I’m not going to say which way,” Holland told reporters on Sunday. “We expect him to make a decision by Tuesday or Wednesday.”

Should Hasek retire, the Red Wings will reportedly make a strong push for unrestricted free agent goaltender Curtis Joseph. Joseph is rumored to be looking for a four-year guarentted contract for $9 million.

The Toronto Sun reported Sunday that the Red Wings would not be interested in Joseph for that price. Other available goaltenders include Dallas’ Ed Belfour, Boston’s Byron Dafoe and Mike Richter of the New York Rangers.

Hasek’s retirement will end a career that includes this spring’s Stanley Cup Championship, two Hart Trophies, six Vezina Trophies and an Olympic gold medal.

While the Red Wings may or may not pursue Joseph if Hasek hangs up his skates, they are reportly also interested in free agents Bill Guerin (Boston) and Bobby Holik (New Jersey).

Lidstrom Claims More Hardware

Nicklas Lidstrom added to his hardware collection last night, claiming his second consecutive Norris Trophy at the NHL’s annual awards show.

Lidstrom becomes the first player since Raymond Bourque to repeat as a Norris Trophy winner. He beat out teammate Chris Chelios and Colorado’s Rob Blake, both previous winners.

“Just to be chosen as top three — I love it,” said Chelios, a three-time Norris Trophy winner.

Retiring Detroit coach and Norris Trophy presenter Scotty Bowman called the award the toughest trophy to win.

“This is really something special for me,” Lidstrom said.

Lidstrom plays against opponents’ top lines game in and game out, plays on special-teams units, and sees about thirty minutes of ice time a game.

“Nick is so good,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He has given us a high level of performance over an extended period of time.”

Lidstrom and Chelios are the first teammates to finish one-two in Norris Trophy voting… The Red Wings declined their team option on defenseman Steve Duchesne, he has until next Thursday to accept his player option for one year at $1 million. Databases Back Online

The three databases corrupted on Monday have been repaired, and all functions of are back online.

Due to a miscommunication with CI Host,’s server host, repairs on two of the three databases were delayed several hours, however everything is back up and running now. had lost access to databases housing the information in the Team History, Roster and Site Info sections sometime on Monday. The corrupted information was not discovered until Monday night. apologizes for any trouble caused by the missing information and assures our visitors that all information is back online and correct now.

Hockeytown Loves a Parade

For the third time in six years, Red Wings fans gathered along Woodward Avenue and in Hart Plaza to pay tribute to their team’s Stanley Cup Championship.

Fans gathered along the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup parade route as early as Sunday evening, getting prime seats for the celebration, which began at 11:30 Monday morning.

After rain threatened the parade early Monday morning, the weather cleared up and the sky remained clear until the celebration was over. It was the first time of the three recent championship celebrations that rain was a factor, in 1997 and 1998 their wasn’t a drop from the sky.

Perhaps the loudest cheers of the day were reserved for goaltender Dominik Hasek, who might retire in the next several days. “One more year, one more year!” fans chanted all along the parade route.

Retiring coach Scotty Bowman received the same chant, as did defenseman Chris Chelios. “One more year?” Chelios replied, “I’m gonna play three more!”

With the celebrations and the season now officially over, with all the possibilities for the summer, now one question stand out above all others:

Can we do this again next year? Databases Down

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In the meantime, sections that will be affected include the Roster and Team History, as well as the Week in View section of the front page. The Site Info section had also gone down but was the first to be repaired. apologizes to all visitors for the unavailable content. To make up for the lost information, webmaster Clark Rasmussen is entertaining requests for any information normally found on this site via email.

BELIEVE, One More Time

It was June 13, 2002, about 11:00 pm in Detroit. A buzzer sounded inside Joe Louis Arena, barely audible over the screaming of 20,058 fans. Players in white jerseys streamed onto the ice, hugging, laughing, some of them barely able to believe they’d finally reached their ultimate goal. All over Metro Detroit, in sports bars in Royal Oak, apartments Downriver, parties downtown, whoops of joy and celebration echoed out into the cool early summer night. For the first time ever, Dominik Hasek, Luc Robitaille, Freddy Olausson, and Steve Duchesne, deserving veterans all, hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup above their heads. And a few moments later, Sergei Fedorov brought the Cup to fallen defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and helped him lift it above his head, one more time.

The Game Five victory against the Carolina Hurricanes did not come easily. As ever, the Hurricanes played their defensive trap and played it well. Matters were compounded for the Red Wings by the NHL suspension of Jiri Fischer for a hard cross-check laid on Tommy Westlund in Game Four. Trade deadline acquisition Jiri Slegr was brought in to fill the spot on the blue line, in spite of the fact that he had not played a game since the regular season. Slegr was ready, however. “Everybody’s dream is the Stanley Cup, and here I’m playing in it right now,” he said.

The first period was scoreless, although the Grind Line created some scoring chances, and Luc Robitaille rang a strong shot off the goalpost. Sergei Fedorov got in all alone on a breakaway, but his shot thudded into the chest of goaltender Arturs Irbe.

The Red Wings opened the scoring early in the second period. Series star Igor Larionov made a centering pass from the right corner behind the Carolina net, and Tomas Holmstrom lunged forward to poke it in for the goal. He was being shoved down at the time, and as he landed flat on his back against the boards behind the net, Holmstrom raised his arms in celebration.

The Hurricanes had a chance to tie the game when Jiri Slegr was given a penalty for holding up big Erik Cole along the boards, but Dominik Hasek made a phenomenal save, screened on a redirected shot, and the Red Wings kept the lead.

The Wings gained a goal cushion, and the eventual game winning goal, on a power play of their own. Jaroslav Svoboda was in the penalty box for roughing, and Steve Yzerman fired a shot on net. The puck flew high, but Fedorov found it behind the net and passed it out front to Brendan Shanahan, who one-timed it past Irbe.

The Hurricanes scored their only goal of the game late in the period, on the tail end of a shortened penalty on Shanahan. Jeff O’Neill took a hard shot from a bad angle on the left wing side. Hasek was screened by Cole, and did not see the shot until it was too late. The shot was so hard and the puck was in and out of the net so quickly that the officials had to review it to make sure it had actually gone into the net.

Play in the third period went end to end, staying mainly in the neutral zone. Carolina played frantically, trying desperately to create needed scoring chances, but the chances would not come. Finally, with just a minute left to play, they pulled their goaltender in exchange for a sixth skater, but Shanahan got the puck from Yzerman, skated it to just outside the Hurricanes’ blue line, and fired a laser shot which landed solidly in the empty net to clinch the Red Wings’ third Stanley Cup in six years. The players wound down the remaining forty seconds or so. The buzzer sounded, and the celebration began. And Jiri Fischer was the first one to jump off the bench and join his teammates on the ice. In front of the net, Hasek jumped up and down like an excited child. “It’s a fantastic feeling, and I’m so happy!” he said.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman presented the awards. The Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player in the playoffs went to the highly deserving Nicklas Lidstrom. And then the Stanley Cup itself, to Steve Yzerman, who took his little daughter Isabella with him to accept the award for the team.

In the middle of the revelry, Scotty Bowman dropped the revelation he’d been holding onto: “This is my last game as a coach.” He had made the decision during the Olympic Break in February, that regardless of this season’s outcome, it was the right time to retire. On top of his coaching game, having broken another of his mentor Toe Blake’s records by winning a ninth Stanley Cup, and ready to go, the winningest coach of all time.

Most of the players have indicated that they wish to return for another season. Chris Chelios and Brett Hull are especially eager to keep their skates for another year. Steve Yzerman, once he recovers from the much needed surgery on his right knee, will return to lead the team again. Dominik Hasek has not yet made a decision. The outcome of the 2002 off-season decisions will be known, eventually.

The outcome of the 2001 off-season decisions was realized tonight, as the Stanley Cup returned home to Hockeytown.

Detroit Leads Series 3-1

When a hockey writer can lead off with a glorious headline like that, why waste time trying to think up something clever? The Red Wings are starting to make up for lost time, scoring the goals that couldn’t get through the Hurricanes’ defensive trap before, and giving Carolina a taste of their own medicine by shutting them down to win Game Four 3-0 and bring a commanding 3-1 series lead home to Detroit.

The first period started just as it had in the three preceding games: tight checking and low in scoring chances. The Red Wings did have an early power play, but Carolina’s penalty killers were in fine form and did not allow the Wings to set up a scoring chance. Hurricanes goaltender Arturs Irbe was tested by only four quality chances in the first twenty minutes, while Dominik Hasek at the other end of the rink had to deal with only three good Carolina scoring chances. The most notable of these happened just as the period was drawing to an end. Rookie Erik Cole dodged around Chris Chelios to go into the zone all by himself, but Hasek came way out of the net and dove towards Cole’s skates, stick outstretched, and took the puck away.

The Red Wings finally managed to open the scoring early in the third period. Freddy Olausson got around a Carolina defender and got the puck to Boyd Devereaux at the blue line. Devereaux squeezed past another defender and carried the puck up the right side, looking as if to shoot the whole way up, but instead he threaded a pass through to Brett Hull coming up the left wing side. Hull dropped to one knee and one-timed the shot off the goalpost and into the net.

The Red Wings dominated most of the game after that. Carolina’s best scoring chance came during a phantom high-sticking penalty to Luc Robitaille. Ron Francis had Hasek beaten, but his shot clanged off the post.

Igor Larionov added an insurance goal early in the third period. Tomas Holmstrom got the puck over to the left side boards in Carolina’s zone, then tied up the Carolina player going after it. Jiri Fischer took a few steps forward from the blue line to get to it. Fischer faked a shot, but instead passed to Larionov just at the right side of the net, uncovered. Larionov held the puck just long enough for everyone to realize what he was going to do, but not long enough that anyone could do anything about it, before flipping it into Irbe’s unguarded net.

Detroit really shut down the Hurricanes after that, lining up and preventing the puck from getting into their zone under Hurricane control. It was basically a game of keep-away, doing to Carolina what they have done to all the other teams in the playoffs. The Red Wings brought one final goal with 5:17 remaining to put the game away for good. Sergei Fedorov brought the puck across the blue line, with Brendan Shanahan following and heading for the net. Fedorov deked past Sean Hill and passed the puck between Hill’s legs, past Marek Malik, and to the outstretched stick of Shanahan. Shanahan made short work of that one, tipping the puck past Irbe for the goal.

Once again, the Red Wings outshot the Hurricanes, this time by a count of twenty-seven to seventeen. Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals will be Thursday evening back at Joe Louis Arena.

Brett Hull’s goal was his 100th career playoff goal. He is the fourth leading playoff goal scorer of all time, surpassed only by Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Jari Kurri…. Igor Larionov broke his own record set in Game Three. He is still the oldest player to have scored in a Stanley Cup Final, just two days older now….. Dominik Hasek also broke his own record, set in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals, with his sixth playoff shutout this year…. Finally, Scotty Bowman broke legendary coach Toe Blake’s record by winning his 35th Stanley Cup Finals game.

“Old and Tired”? Whatever!

It was the third longest game ever played in the Stanley Cup Finals. It was the longest game yet in the 2002 playoffs. And it was finally won by the oldest player ever to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Finals. Igor Larionov played the hero to give the Red Wings a 3-2 victory in triple overtime and a 2-1 lead in the series.

The first period had good pressure early by Carolina, but then the Red Wings got two power plays right in a row. They were unable to convert, but they were able to take control of the game. As momentum from the power plays waned, Carolina was able to increase the pressure again, and Josef Vasicek opened the scoring with just over five minutes to go in the opening period. Detroit failed to clear the puck from their zone, and Vasicek picked it up in the circle, eluded Steve Duchesne, and wristed a shot high over Dominik Hasek‘s blocker.

The Red Wings answered early in the second period. Kirk Maltby and Aaron Ward were both in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct, creating a four-on-four situation. Brett Hull beat Glen Wesley to pick up an errant Carolina pass in the Hurricanes’ zone, and passed neatly to Igor Larionov at the bottom of the left circle. Larionov one-timed the shot over the shoulder of Arturs Irbe.

Jeff O’Neill regained the lead for the Hurricanes 7:34 into the third period. He slipped in behind Freddy Olausson and got a pass from Ron Francis. O’Neill’s shot rose high and fluttered over Hasek’s glove into the net. The Hurricanes closed down after that, willing to keep a one-goal lead and unwilling to take any risks that could turn into mistakes. They held onto their lead for a long, long time. Detroit got some shots on net, but they weren’t allowed any quality ones, and Irbe was quick to stifle any rebounds.

Finally, with just over a minute to play, the crowd in Raleigh was screaming for their team, ready to celebrate a victory and a series lead. The crowd back in Detroit watching the game on the big screen at Joe Louis Arena was ready to pack up their octopi and go home to regroup for Game Four. That was when Nick Lidstrom and Brett Hull got the job done. Carolina iced the puck, giving the Red Wings a faceoff in the Hurricanes’ end. Larionov won the draw cleanly to Lidstrom, who fired hard. Hull redirected the puck in midair, and it soared into Irbe’s net.

The first overtime saw an amazing number of scoring chances for Detroit. Sergei Fedorov and Brendan Shanahan got away on a glorious two-on-one rush, but Shanahan’s shot clanged off the goalpost. Olausson had a clear shot from the right point to the net, but the puck flew off the crossbar. Pavel Datsyuk completely fooled two Carolina defensmen and went right up to the net, but his backhand shot couldn’t lift quite high enough to beat Irbe.

Carolina tried to bring some pressure in the second overtime, but they were no match for Hasek and his acrobatic saves. Finally, past the halfway point of the third overtime, the Red Wings got the break they were able to capitalize on. Erik Cole left his post on Detroit’s blue line to rush up to the play, and the Red Wings got it out of their own zone, leaving most of the Hurricanes behind. Tomas Holmstrom carried across the Hurricanes blue line and left the puck for Larionov, while Mathieu Dandenault headed for the front of the net. Dandenault created a perfect screen to block Irbe’s view, allowing Larionov to skate across the slot and backhand a high shot in to end the game.

Final shots on net added up to fifty-three to forty-three in Detroit’s favor. Game Four will play in Raleigh on Monday night, even though Game Three could had very nearly enough minutes to be two games.

Ron Francis set a record in Game One of this series, being then the oldest player to have ever scored a goal in overtime in a Stanley Cup Final game. Looks like Igor Larionov stole that record cleanly just two games later….. Speaking of being old, certain media personalities who should probably remain nameless have mentioned throughout the playoffs how the Red Wings’ advanced age would be a hindrance to them in overtimes and long series, because they are “so old” that they would tire easily. Hmmm. It appeared to this reporter that those young, strong Hurricanes were the ones wearing out as the game dragged on through the overtimes. So much for youth culture in the world of hockey.

‘Mayberry’ vs. ‘Da Hood’

With the Carolina Hurricanes playing the dreaded neutral zone trap, the Stanley Cup Finals have become about as exciting as watching paint dry. To combat the boredom, writers from the Detroit and Raleigh newspapers seem to have entered into a competition to see who can come up with the most creative insults for the opposing city.

At the start of the series, most of the jabs came from Detroit writers, carrying on with Montreal journalists’ reference to Raleigh, home of the Hurricanes, as “Mayberry,” from the name of the TV locale for “The Andy Griffith Show.”

On 3 June, the Detroit Free Press’ Jemele Hill wrote “Aunt Bee and Opie meet Hockeytown.”

Mitch Albom had a debate with his fictional North Carolinian cousin “Moonshine” in a 4 June column in the Free Press.

On 6 June, Ned Barnett of the Raleigh News & Observer replied as a guest columnist in the Free Press.

“OK. It’s supposed to be funny. And there are some funny things about a new transplant in a Southern market playing for Lord Stanley’s Cup. But when it comes to the Mayberry-Tobacco spittin’-NASCAR jokes, North Carolinians have heard it all before.”

Okay, so we get the point. Anything said up here in Hockeytown has already been heard in the Triangle. Sorry, we’re just now getting the chance to play this game; we didn’t realize everyone else had tired you out.

I personally thought the jokes were playful, adding some fun to a series brought down by slow, choppy play. The fact that NHL hockey has only been played in North Carolina for five years, in Raleigh for only three, seemed to tie in with the jokes.

There have been no “Mayberry” references in the Free Press since Barnett’s column.

On 7 June, following Carolina’s loss in Game Two the night before, the News & Observer’s Barry Saunders penned, “When Detroit wins, the city loses.”

Saunders suggests that “the police and business owners” are rooting for a ‘Canes victory because “Detroit fans are sore winners. Let them win anything and they take to the streets, looting, pillaging, burning.”

He points out the millions of dollars in property damage and one death caused during the celebration of the Detroit Tigers’ 1984 World Series victory and the eight deaths and many injuries following the Detroit Pistons’ back-to-back championships in 1990.

At no point did he mention the fact that the celebrations following the Red Wings’ 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup Championships, which included over a million people on hand for the victory parades, went off without a hitch. He was content in summarizing, “If that’s their response to a victory, you don’t want to be around when these geniuses lose.”

I ask Mr. Saunders that he check his facts before publishing defamatory remarks. Wings fans haven’t turned to violence, unlike his implication.

We’ll prove it again this year.

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