Dominik Hasek didn’t realize that when he stepped back on the ice in March of 2011 to wave to the fans in Buffalo, New York that he would be waving farewell to hockey in North America and professionally.
Hasek made it very clear that he was ready to return to the ranks of the NHL this season – despite the looming lockout. He even interviewed with the Buffalo Sabres.
He waited his decision on AHL training camps – hoping to impress a general manager enough to give the almost 50 year old goaltender a shot at playing in North America once again.
With camp rosters reduced and the AHL regular season ready to get underway, Dominik Hasek found himself without a crease to call his own – so he is bidding his fond farewell to the world of professional hockey.
While the Buffalo Sabres organization sits on idle hands with the lockout, public relations personnel now have a busy task at hand. When do we raise the number 39 to the rafters along with former NHL greats Rick Martin, Gilbert Perreault, Rene Robert, Tim Horton, Danny Gare, and Pat Lafontaine.
The Buffalo Sabres organization, at least under Terry Pegula has been forthcoming with the information that Dominik Hasek’s number will be raised to the rafters, but under an agreement that the team not do it while the netminder was still playing hockey professionally anywhere in the world. With the skates being hung up officially, it is only a matter of time for the Sabres to raise the banner high.
The question now remains, does the organization raise in blue and gold, or black and red. Hasek played under both colors for the Sabres, and had achievements in both uniforms. For the look of things, his banner should be blue and gold, to match the rest of the retired and honored numbers. For the bulk of his career in Buffalo however, he played in black and red. You cannot just ignore the fact that those years ever existed in Buffalo sports history. It was with that uniform that Hasek helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Dallas Stars. Much of his hardware won in a Buffalo sweater was under the black years.
If the Sabres are going to pay any more tribute to the black and red era, Hasek should be the only player from that time to have his sweater honored in such a fashion. I am already against the idea of raising it twice – a happy medium has to take place – which is why I am voting for, and the team will probably go with, the blue and gold banner.
Depending on the length of the 2012 lockout, the Buffalo Sabres might do well to lure fans back into the seats by using the home opener to honor one of the Buffalo Sabres greatest goaltenders ever to protect the crease in Memorial Auditorium and First Niagara Center (nee Marine Midland Arena, nee HSBC Arena).
Farewell Dominik Hasek, and thank you for what you brought to the game of hockey.