June 07, 2010
The outspoken former Vezina Trophy winner held a press conference and spoke with my colleague Pavel Lysenkov from Sovetsky Sport, answering some English-language questions I submitted.
Here's what Hasek has to say about his KHL career; his place in history at the forefront of the European goalie revolution in the NHL; his thoughts on the Red Wings' goalie situation and Steve Yzerman with the Tampa Bay Lightning; and his analysis of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Q. Do you think that by coming to the KHL you're already the best goalie in the league?
It's hard to say. I am here to play hockey and to be successful in this league. I am not thinking about being the best goalie in the world. For me this is just a great opportunity to play for Spartak, try to do my best and, maybe, to win.
Q. What is driving you now that you're 45 and have won virtually every prize available?
It's not about trophies. It doesn't matter which trophies I won in the past. It doesn't matter to me. I love hockey. I love this game. And for me to play for a new team in a new league is a great opportunity and a great challenge. I am very excited about it. The love for hockey is what is driving me.
Q. How closely do you follow the NHL?
I do follow the NHL. I check out the Internet a couple of times a week, look at the standings. But I follow the NHL especially during playoffs. I even watch a few games. I even wake up at night to watch NHL playoffs.
Q. Are you surprised by the way European goaltenders are taking over the NHL?
I am not surprised. I know that there are many great goaltenders in Europe. And for some of them, when they get a chance to play in the NHL, it is possible. I don't know the exact numbers of European goalies playing for NHL teams right now, but I am not surprised.
Q. What is the reason NHL teams trust European goaltenders more and more?
The times are changing. There are more and more European defensemen and forwards playing in the NHL. And now there are a lot of goalies. As I said, the times are changing. It was very different in the 1980s, it was different in the 1990s when I came there. And now it is very different in the 2000s. It all depends on a lot of circumstances, but I am not surprised.
Q. Do you believe that it was you who really started the revolution in the NHL for European goaltenders?
Sort of. I don't want to say that I made the revolution, but I would say I changed the minds of many general managers that European goalies can be reliable, can help NHL teams, and be among the top-top goalies in the league.
So, I don't want to say that I made the revolution, but I was one of the reasons the minds of many, many people have changed.
Q. You last won the Cup with the Red Wings. Their goaltending situation hasn't been very good. Why do you think this is the case?
Oh... Don't ask me this question. I follow the Red Wings. I watch them on TV all the time. But just don't ask me. I don't know. Sometimes people say that 'it's goaltender's fault,' but it is not always true. There are other issues there. There are players, the management. I know Ozzie [Osgood] very well.
But as I said, you tend to blame goaltenders, when it's not always their fault.
Q. How many years do you have in you to keep playing?
I don't have the answer to that. In the last five years I have been playing I always signed one-year deals. And after this season I will see how I feel, what I can do. But it also depends on the organization and what they think about me. I just take it year by year.
Q. Have you considered coaching?
Not yet. At least not seriously. Yes, it did come to my mind, but I just don't feel like a coach at this time of my life.
Q. Steve Yzerman was appointed the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Would you join him in Tampa if he asked you to become a goaltending coach there?
Not now. Maybe in the future. The weather is always nice over there. [smiling] At least I would think about it. But it just won't happen this year.
Ha! No. Chris is my great friend, my great buddy. Once in a while we call each other and we talk about it. And Chelios is three years older than me. I don't know, but I would say 'no,' I won't outlast him. But again, who knows?
Q. Who will win the Stanley Cup and why?
Wow! Hmm.... Chicago. What's the score right now? 2-2? 3-2? The Flyers came back one time from 3-0 in this year's playoffs. So, don't count them out.