Former Buffalo Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek was all smiles in his return to Buffalo. The two-time Hart Trophy winner was back in town to promote the 2011 Willie O’Ree Skill Weekend hosted by Hasek’s charity, Hasek’s Heroes.
“It was a great opportunity to come back here and be a part of this weekend,” Hasek said. “So what can I say? I haven’t been in Buffalo [or] North America in the last few years, so when [the Sabres] called me, I said, either way, I am coming. I’ll be here and see how everything is going. I’m glad to be back.”
Hasek said before last night’s Sabres game against the Atlanta Thrashers that he didn’t know what to reaction to expect from fans when he stepped onto the ice. Those in attendance greeted him with a standing ovation and rousing cheers as he was honored prior to the opening faceoff. After a ceremonial pick drop, Hasek high-fives fans on his way back up to the 100 level of HSBC Arena.
Hasek played this past season in the KHL and led the league in shutouts. Although his team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, he said he wants to play one more year overseas and win a championship.
“When I left Detroit last time, I said goodbye to the NHL,” Hasek said. I want to play, but it means if I play, I don’t want to be a backup goalie. I still believe that I can play at the highest level. Definitely I feel that way. However, it wouldn’t be a good idea to come back right now to the NHL. So I feel like I want to stay in hockey, but it’s got to be in Russia.”