We continue our series about Buffalo Sabres history, with each day’s post highlighting a player to have worn the subsequent jersey number with the Buffalo Sabres. This series is not designed to say that any player is the ‘best’ to have worn that jersey number, but rather to allow fans to get a taste of the team’s history and learn more about some of the players in it.
Five players in Sabres history have worn the number 39, but the most notable is, of course, goaltender Dominik Hasek.
Where do I even begin?
Hasek didn’t start or finish his NHL career with the Sabres, but he made a significant impact on Buffalo in his time here and had arguably the best years of his career while with the Sabres. His overall NHL career saw him retire, then come out of that retirement several times; he won numerous awards, from the Vezina to the Lester B. Pearson to the Jennings, and overall, he was one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.
All of that legacy is part of why his jersey number 39 will be retired by the Sabres this coming season, and why he’ll be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this coming November.
Hasek was originally a draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, going to the team 199th overall (10th round) in 1983. Yes, you read that right — 199th overall for who would end up being one of the best goaltenders to play the game. He began his NHL career in the 1990-91 season, appearing in five games with the Blackhawks. He won three of those games but spent most of the year in the IHL with the Indianapolis Ice. The next season would see Hasek split between the IHL and NHL.
Then August 7, 1992 came around — the day that Hasek was traded to the Sabres in exchange for Stephane Beauregard and a 1993 4th-round pick (Eric Daze).
Hasek’s tenure with the Sabres would last from 1992 until 2001. He set many team records during his time with Buffalo, some of which have been broken in recent years by Ryan Miller.
During his time with the Sabres, he won the William M. Jennings Trophy twice, took home five Vezina trophies, two Hart trophies and two Lester B. Pearson trophies.
Hasek finished his tenure with the Sabres having played 491 regular season games in Buffalo – 28,664 minutes. HIs record was 234 wins, 170 losses and 70 ties, and he had over 13,000 saves. Throughout the years, he had 55 shutouts with the Buffalo.
June 30, 2001 marked the end of an era as Hasek was traded to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Vyacheslav Kozlov and a pair of draft picks, including one conditional.
He played with the Red Wings in the 2001-02 and 2003-04 seasons, then spent a year in Ottawa before two more seasons in Detroit. His NHL career wrapped up in 2008, after he won one more Jennings Trophy during his time with the Wings.
After leaving the NHL in 2008, Hasek took a season off, then returned to play in 2009-10 to play with Pardubice HC in the Czech Republic. He also played for Moscow Spartak in the KHL in the 2010-11 season.
Now 49, Hasek will forever be remembered as one of the best players in Sabres history and one of the best goaltenders in NHL history. He’ll be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this coming November and will have his number retired by the Sabres this season.
Other players to wear #39 for the Sabres: Brian Curran, Don McSween, Trent Kaese, Clark Gillies