|Monday, June 23
Updated: June 24, 3:59 PM ET
Source: Hasek's return is a 'virtual certainty'
ESPN.com news services
Dominik Hasek might not have stopped his last puck after all. The former star goaltender is considering a return to the NHL.
Hasek, who retired after helping the Detroit Red Wings to a Stanley Cup title in 2002, has recently talked to his former club about a possible return.
The 38-year-old goaltender and representatives of the Red Wings met in Europe recently, Roman Hozak, the player's press representative, told The Associated Press on Tuesday from the Czech Republic.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland said he has been contacted by Hasek's agent, Rich Winter.
"While we have had discussions, at this time, no decision has been made by Dominik,'' Holland said in a statement.
"They continue to talk about it and we'll see how it goes,'' Winter said.
"Dominik is deciding exactly which direction he wants to go and hopefully I'll know very soon,'' Holland told radio station WJR.
"Dominik has been in contact with the Red Wings several times over the past several weeks, and they've had serious discussions about the possibility of him coming back," Winter told TSN of Canada. "I think he's leaning towards coming back, but he hasn't made a final decision."
Another source though told TSN that it was a "virtual certainty" that Hasek would return to the NHL. The Red Wings hold an $8 million option for the 38-year-old goaltender next season.
Detroit signed current starting goalie Curtis Joseph last offseason to a 3-year, $24 million contract, including a no-trade clause, TSN reported.
"If Dominik comes back it probably will be a sticky situation,'' Holland said. "Obviously, a lot of teams right now are looking for goaltenders. At the same time, money is a real issue around the league.''
"It's Kenny's worst nightmare," one NHL general manager told TSN, referring to the Detroit general manager (Holland). "What do you do with Hasek when you've got Curtis Joseph under contract for the next two years? You can't have $17 million worth of goaltending. Plus, Hasek hasn't played in a year and a half."
Joseph has a no-trade clause, but it is believed he'd be willing to waive it to come to the Rangers, with whom he nearly signed before going to Toronto five years ago, according to the New York Post.
Red Wings officials declined comment to TSN on Hasek's possible return.
Hasek has reneged on retirement plans before. He said four years ago that the 1999-2000 campaign would be his last but changed his mind less than a year later and returned to the Buffalo Sabres for another season.
But before the start of the 2001-02 season, the Red Wings acquired Hasek in a trade with the Sabres for veteran left wing Vyacheslav Kozlov, a draft pick next year and other future considerations.
Hasek went on to win the one trophy that eluded him, the Stanley Cup. He retired after the win, falling on the heels of Scotty Bowman's departure. Bowman, the winningest coach in NHL history, announced his retirement moments after winning his record ninth Stanley Cup that year.
Hasek has won six Vezina Trophies as the NHL's top goalie, one short of the record held by Jacques Plante.
In nine seasons with the Sabres, Hasek, who led Buffalo to the 1999 Stanley Cup finals, also won the Hart Trophy in 1997 and 1998 as NHL MVP. He was acquired on Aug. 7, 1992, in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks -- the team Hasek spent his first two NHL seasons.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.