Saturday, May 22, 2004


Just Say NO to Hasek

As the Czechs are taking their sweet time in choosing their World Cup roster, coach Ivan �Smiley� Hlinka (pictured) has a very tough decision on his hands: Do they take Dominik Hasek on their World Cup roster?

By all rights, Nashville�s Tomas Vokoun has earned the #1 job for the Czechs and should take over the mantle from Hasek.
Vokoun carried Nashville into the playoffs, and almost past the Red Wings in the NHL Playoffs. Vokoun was rolling at the World Championships until a shocking shootout loss to a roach playing for the Americans.

Of course, replacing Hasek isn�t quite so simple, since the old bastard is still hanging around like the unwanted stepparent with the lucrative will who just won�t die.

Despite his vicious assault of Martin Sila during a roller hockey game, and his overpriced clothing line which is a crime against the sports fashion community, Hasek is a living legend in his homeland and is worshipped like a major deity for his exploits in Nagano.
Ivan Hlinka could be running from Czech lynch mobs if he were to deny Hasek a spot on the team, if Hasek proclaims his enthusiasm for the World Cup.

Thus, Hlinka needs to step up to Hasek and do what is best for Team Czechia: Leave Hasek at home.


1. Performance � Vokoun is one of the better goaltenders in the NHL right now, and his showing at the WC in Prague showed that he is the right man for the job. Hasek, on the other hand, clearly �lost� whatever mojo he had, and he was no more than an average NHL goaltender this season.

When Hasek retired at the end of the 2001/02 season, he retired �on top�. He had his Stanley Cup, six Vezina trophies, a Hart trophy, an Olympic Gold medal, 6 Czech League Goalie Awards, and a partridge in a pear tree, and he was still a pretty effective goalie. Sure, his skills were declining, but ever so slowly. Most NHL teams would have been happy to have him.

So, Hasek went back to Pardubice and lived the good life. He hung up the goalie pads for good (He didn�t put them on once during his �retirement�), built a hammock in the back year and drank Budvar all day. Once a fanatic about practice, Hasek had about 15 years of being a lazy bum saved up, and went to work cashing them in.

Unfortunately, Hasek caught the same �unretirement� syndrome that prompted Michael Jordan, Mario Lemieux, and countless others to come back to the game, only to tarnish their legacies.

Hasek�s lack of conditioning caught up with him in a hurry, as he lost a great deal of his trademark flexibility, and tore his groin into bite-size shreds after struggling through a handful of games. Hasek looked rusty, and he�s obviously not at the level needed to play in International hockey.

2. Chemistry � The only player less popular to the Red Wings players last season was the ghost of Claude Lemieux.
Ask any of Hasek�s backups what they think of the guy, and chances are that they�d rather spend time with Gilbert Godfried.

Dwayne Roloson and Scott Shields in Buffalo, Manny Legace in Detroit, and Libor Barta in Pardubice can all attest to the fact that Hasek is a first-class jerk who does not get along well with the fellow goalies on his team. Team-mates of Hasek have put up with his flaky personality (Mathew Barnaby, who threatned to run Hasek at training camp on year, being the notable exception), but only so long as Hasek was carrying their jock straps to the promised land.
If Hasek were to be selected onto the team, there is no doubt that Hasek would use his influence within the federation and whine incessantly until he was reinstated as the #1 goalie. Hasek is not the type to play second fiddle to any other goalie, and his attitude would poison the efforts of the Czech squad.

3. Injury Status � As mentioned above, Hasek�s groin has given his numerous troubles and despite the fact that he is rehabbing furiously (as Face Off Circle �Octopus� put it), Hasek will not be in game shape or 100% healthy by the time the World Cup rolls around. There won�t be time for Hasek to get into game shape, and the roster spot will be better spent on a goalie that is more �fresh� and prepared.

In a perfect world, Hasek would make a fine #2 or #3 for this squad, and I�d be dating Jessica Biel , but this isn�t a perfect world. Hlinka needs to make the tough, but just, choice for the good of his team and leave Hasek off of the team. If he doesn�t, watch the Czechs chances combust internally.

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