Ex-NHLer and analyst Matthew Barnaby went on the offensive Wednesday night, slamming his former team over what he perceived to be a lackluster jersey retirement ceremony for Dominik Hasek.
“I think I’ve seen better ceremonies for players that have won Player of the Month for the Montreal Canadiens,” Barnaby told SiriusXM NHL Radio, per the Buffalo News. “This was embarrassing.”
Hasek’s ceremony lasted around 20 minutes and didn’t feature his family, former teammates or Sabres front office staff. Only Danny Gare and Rene Robert — both of whom have their numbers in the rafters — were there, to skate out Hasek’s banner at the end of the ceremony.
Barnaby, who openly admits to not being friendly with Hasek, expressed dismay over the proceedings.
“There was no one,” he explained. “There wasn’t a former teammate on the ice. And yes, I wouldn’t have been there, but there’s a lot of players that did like him, respected him and are in good graces with him. There was no fanfare for that. There was no family there.
“I love Rene Robert and I love Danny Gare, but to see two guys just skate out with a little banner and raise it and it was over. It was just weird. It was awkward. It was weird.”
The fact that Hasek’s ceremony came so quickly after Teemu Selanne’s jersey retirement in Anaheim probably plays a role. The Ducks took 90 minutes to salute Selanne in a ceremony attended by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Anaheim owner Henry Samueli and a slew of Selanne’s ex-teammates: Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Saku Koivu, Steve Rucchin, Guy Hebert, Todd Marchant and George Parros.
It’s worth noting Barnaby wasn’t the only person that took issue with Hasek’s ceremony. Here’s Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News:
Bottom line: That ceremony was flat-out lame.
Two long-time NHL observers I really respect were shaking their heads. One told me after the game, “That’s the worst jersey retirement I’ve ever seen.”
I don’t know if this was the only way Hasek would agree to do a ceremony but so many weird aspects to it. No family? (Yes, I know he lives in Prague). No Sabres ownership or management on the ice? None of his former teammates from Detroit or Buffalo? No presentations from either side? No one else speaking? Nothing?
When Hasek was done with his speech, there was an awkward silence. The ceremony was stilted and seemed thrown together at the last minute with little thought. This was one of the two greatest players in franchise history. Where was the reverence?