Hockey / Sports

Dominik Hasek heads Hall class

DETROIT -- Even in a career jammed with special memories, from Olympic gold to record-setting hardware, one year in particular stands out for Dominik Hasek.

His selection Monday to the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2014, along with fellow first-ballot inductee Mike Modano, prompted reflection on the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings team, one so laden with talent Hasek is the seventh player going into the Hall.

"It was one of my best years that I play hockey," Hasek said. "From Day One, I played with so many great players, so many stars, I'd never play with before, and never play with after. Already seven players in the Hall of Fame, and I believe in the future, there will be even more."

Peter Forsberg and Rob Blake were the other players announced, along with the late former coach Pat Burns in the Builder category and former official Bill McCreary in the Referee & Linesman category. The six will be formally inducted Nov. 17 in Toronto.

Players aren't eligible until they've been retired for three years. Hasek, 49, pushed across three continents to extend his career into his 40s, and was last seen in a pro game in Russia in 2011.

Hasek had two stints in Detroit, highlighted by his sensational arrival from Buffalo in the summer of 2001. Hasek had just set a record by collecting his sixth Vezina Trophy -- and had a resume that also boasted two Hart Trophies -- but for all his personal triumph in Buffalo -- including a run to the Stanley Cup final in 1999, a Stanley Cup championship had been elusive.

That changed when he added his star power to the luminary roster Detroit had assembled.

"Our goal from Day One," Hasek said, "was to win the Cup, and nothing else."

That was accomplished on the backs of so many superstars that "I don't know if there will ever be another team with more players in the Hockey Hall of Fame," Hasek said.

Hasek joins fellow 2002 players Igor Larionov (2008), Steve Yzerman (2009), Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille (2009) and Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan (2013) in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Hasek noted he also played for the "best coach ever in hockey," in Scotty Bowman, who went into the Hall in 1991 as a builder.

Next year will be a slam dunk for another 2002 player, as legendary defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom hits the three-year-out mark. Sergei Fedorov, the highest-scoring Russian in NHL history, is also eligible -- and it's a good bet that Pavel Datsyuk, a rookie on the 2002 team, could be the 10th player down the road.

Hasek departed Detroit after a troubled 2003-04 season that saw him limited to 14 games because of a severe groin injury. He spent 2005-06 with the Ottawa Senators, then returned to Detroit for two seasons, but he was a bench-warmer behind Chris Osgood for the 2008 Stanley Cup. Hasek next sat out a year, and then played in his hometown of Pardubice, Czech Republic, in 2009-10.

Modano, 44, had been the face of the Minnesota-Dallas franchise for 20 seasons when he came to Detroit in 2010. What was supposed to be a storybook tale of local boy coming home soured when Modano suffered a deep gash to his right wrist in November, sidelining him 41 games.

"I was just grateful for the opportunity to come back home and play in front of family and friends and play for a team I grew up watching for lots of years," he said. "That experience was very memorable, having the opportunity to be around Kenny Holland and Mike Babcock all year, and the great Ilitch family.

"It was a good experience for me, one that I don't regret doing. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately it was cut short with my wrist getting cut, but I would have loved to have had another crack at another year or two there if I stayed healthy. It was very memorable."

Modano signed a one-day contract with the Stars in September of 2011 in order to retire with his long-time club. He holds the NHL record for most goals (561) and points (1,374) by an American-born player. Modano led the Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup title -- beating Hasek's Sabres -- and won gold at the 1996 World Cup and silver at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Hasek's Olympic glory came in 1998, when he led the Czech Republic to victory over Canada in the semifinal and then shut out Russia for gold.

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