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Hockey

Not quite total domination

Hasek needs Stanley Cup to complete spectacular resume

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Posted: Thursday June 10, 1999 03:36 PM

  Dominik Hasek: "I've won an Olympic gold medal, but I don't know what it is like to win the Stanley Cup. I would like to know." AP

DALLAS (AP) -- Ken Dryden. Jacques Plante. Terry Sawchuk. Billy Smith. Patrick Roy.

Any short list of hockey's greatest goaltenders must include the above names. How about one more: Dominik Hasek.

Hasek has won four Vezina Trophys as the NHL's top goaltender and the last two MVP awards. He was largely responsible for the Czech Republic's dramatic, unexpected and enthralling gold medal upset in last year's Olympics over traditional powers Canada, Russia and the United States.

All that's missing from the resume of the NHL player who, arguably, is most singularly responsible for his team's success is a Stanley Cup championship.

Now, as Hasek's Buffalo Sabres play the Dallas Stars for the oldest trophy in major pro sports, the Cup could be next. After that, most likely, would come acclaim as one of hockey's all-time greats and possible induction into the Hall of Fame following his eventual retirement.

Hasek is aware that the MVP awards he won, those that goaltenders of a different era didn't win, came about after the voters became convinced that goaltenders were as important to winning or losing as forwards or defensemen.

Hasek realizes that his place in history will not be fully preserved until he holds the Stanley Cup high above his head, as Plante and Sawchuk and Smith and Bernie Parent did. Votes don't win a Stanley Cup, but saves can.

Hasek is as comfortable with that as he is with sprawling to the ice or sticking out his glove to make a save, relying on a style that is far more horizontal than the goaltenders of old.

"If I win the Stanley Cup, I will know what it feels like, but until then I will not know," Hasek said. "I've won an Olympic gold medal, but I don't know what it is like to win the Stanley Cup. I would like to know."

The pressure on Hasek at the Nagano Olympics was enormous because he was playing for the pride of his homeland, where he still returns after the NHL season.

But that was two weeks, a sprint so to speak, not the two-month marathon that is the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the Olympics, it was lose one game and be gone. In the playoffs, the pressure is nightly, because lose one series and a team is gone.

Statistics and shutouts and save percentages don't matter in the Stanley Cup finals, only winning does.

"My goal is to win the game, to give up less goals than the other goalie and, then, I have done my job," Hasek said.

And, yes, even the man known as the Dominator still gets nervous for big games. In the NHL, nothing is bigger than the Stanley Cup.

"I am nervous, but there is nothing bad about it," he said. "It is good to be nervous. It keeps you more focused, more concentrated and the pressure, I believe, is what helps me play better."

 
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