Dominik Hasek was an innovator, a hero, and one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history. Tonight, the Buffalo Sabres will retire his jersey in honor of his incredible career.
With the most unique goaltending style in the history of the game, Hasek dazzled fans well into his 40s. From the snow angel saves to rolling pad-stacking stops that left your jaw on the floor, Hasek could do it all. One of the most exciting players of the past two decades, these are the top 10 stops of Hasek’s career.
10. Hasek sends Gaborik airborne
For a lot of people, this is the Hasek highlight. Not because he made a save, but because of Marian Gaborik flipping through the air after Hasek makes contact.
While it may seem odd to include this as one of his best saves, consider that he had used this method many times before, including this hard-charging beauty on Brian Savage of the Montreal Canadiens.
9. Hasek’s head save in the KHL
Again, while it may seem an odd inclusion, consider just how innovative and unique Hasek’s style was. This wasn’t an odd sight for Hasek, as he used whatever he had to stop the puck. It may not be a save of the diving or sprawling variety, but it was still as important to his arsenal.
8. The Dominator is born in the Stanley Cup Final
This clip comes all the way from the 1992 Stanley Cup Final, in which the Pittsburgh Penguins swept the Chicago Blackhawks. With coach Mike Keenan, a bench boss notorious for his short leash with goaltenders, behind the bench for the Blackhawks, Hasek got the start in the fourth and final game of the series.
Though the Blackhawks last, it was an incredible performance by the then-27-year-old Hasek, and this stop on the legendary Mario Lemieux was one of his best.
7. Pavel Bure can’t believe he didn’t score
Watch the Russian Rocket’s reaction after being stopped by Hasek on this attempt. He literally cannot believe the puck isn’t in the net. This wasn’t the first, and was far from the last, time that Hasek left an opponent with their head in their hands, confused as to how they didn’t score.
6. Hasek cartwheel save baffles Ryan Getzlaf
When you tell your children about Dominik Hasek, this is the kind of save you’ll most likely describe – the kind that makes absolutely no sense and defies all logic, but the kind of stop that was commonplace with the Czech great.
Getzlaf thought he had a wide open net, but Hasek took it away from him like he had no business even believing he could score.
5. Stop on Domi one of Dominik’s best
Much like the save above, it’s impossible to believe that this is the kind of goaltending Hasek was able to provide during his career. Even today, in an era when it’s acknowledged that goaltenders are getting better and better, this stop is one that makes you wonder if we’ll ever see a goaltender as good as Hasek.
Sure, Tim Thomas brought a similar style, but no one offered such incredible saves on such a consistent basis.
4. Scorpion save on Adam Graves
Imagine the focus it takes to make a save like this? Hasek is down and out, but as the puck floats over him, he sends his back heel forward and stops the puck from reaching or crossing the goal line. When people talk about his unorthodox style, this save on Graves is exactly what they’re talking about.
3. Diving blocker save takes goal away from Trent Klatt
One of the things Hasek was famous for was dropping his stick in order to make stops. Be it in the name of mobility or just because it was a habit, Hasek has probably played more hockey without the use of a goal stick than any other netminder in history.
This stop on Klatt is great for a few reasons, but most of all it’s fantastic for the call by legendary Sabres broadcast Rick Jeanneret. And to answer your question, Mr. Jeanneret, we can barely believe this save.
2. Pad save from nowhere robs Turgeon
Hasek’s most watched saves were diving, sprawling, scrambling efforts that changed how people viewed the goaltending position, but this stop by Hasek isn’t any of those and it’s still incredible.
The best part is the fan reaction, as they cheer before the puck has crossed the line only for Hasek to rob Pierre Turgeon and totally boggle the minds of all in attendance. You can even see a Canadiens player in the background raising his stick to cheer before realizing, nope, that didn’t go in.
1. Textbook Hasek robbery steals goal from Weight
Doug Weight scored 278 goals in the NHL. He likely should have had 279.
This stop by Hasek is the type that keeps a goal-scorer up at night. There seems to be absolutely no chance for Hasek after Weight throws out an incredible breakaway move, yet somehow the Dominator gets back around with the glove in time to stop the puck from crossing the line.
You can be positive that this clip will be shown tonight when Hasek gets his No. 39 raised to the First Niagara Center rafters. Many of his saves were incredible, but this may just be the greatest.