According to Ritch Winter — the agent representing 47-year-old goalie Dominik Hasek — there’s no backup plan for his comeback to the NHL.
The NHL is the plan.
“He will play,” Winter told ProHockeyTalk. “There is no option. He will play and he will excel and he will do all of the things he can do.
“That’s his view of it. There’s one objective, and that’s it — he won’t fail.”
Winter claims he’s already fielded interest from “about a half dozen” NHL clubs about the two-time league MVP.
(Note: Toronto was not one of those teams — “It doesn’t look like a spot,” Winter said.)
There’s a high curiosity factor in Hasek’s comeback, primarily because he’s one of the greatest goalies ever.
There’s also the fact Hasek plays a position where age doesn’t factor as much as, say, forward or defense. Martin Brodeur played in the 2012 Stanley Cup finals a month after turning 40; in 2011, Dwayne Roloson (41) became the oldest goalie in league history to post a playoff shutout.
(At 45, Hasek won a Czech league title — and playoff MVP — with Pardubice. At 46, he led the KHL with seven shutouts.)
There’s also his notorious fitness regime. Winter says that, even at 47 — he’ll turn 48 in January — Hasek’s maintained all his capacities and skills from his glory years in Buffalo.
“He’s done all of the stuff you’d expect a NASA scientist to do before they go into a venture like this,” Winter explained. “He’s measured his reflexes, he’s measured his reaction time and it’s identical to what it was at the time he won a number of Vezina trophies. He’s actually 1.6 pounds off his playing weight at the Nagano Olympics [in 1998].
“Who keeps records like that? I guess Dom. Who knows their body, does reaction time and reflex training and measurement? I guess Dom.”
Finally — and perhaps most importantly — there are the expectations Hasek has for himself. A noted perfectionist, he always held himself to an exceptionally high standard during his playing days…and that doesn’t seem to have changed during his time off.
“[Hasek] feels confident that he can be considerably better than any backup in this league,” Winter said. “He thinks he can push to be in the bottom-half of the top third of the league.
“That’s his view.”