Former Buffalo Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek will have his #39 jersey retired next season by the team. The honor was announced Friday, one day before Hasek is set to enter the team's Hall of Fame.
Hasek is widely considered to be one of the greatest goaltenders in hockey history. He played for the team from 1992-2001, winning the league's MVP trophy twice and the Vezina Trophy as best goaltender six times. He holds numerous franchise records and made one Stanley Cup appearance with the Sabres in 1999.
Speaking to reporters Friday at First Niagara Center, Hasek said he is happy to be back in Buffalo.
"We had a few good runs, especially '98 and '99 when we made it all the way to the finals," Hasek said. "It was an honor for me to play for this organization. This is something I'll never forget."
Hasek said is disappointed to see the last-place team struggling badly this season, in the early stages of a massive rebuild.
"I know the Sabres, they don't do so well this year, unfortunately. I follow what's going on. The Sabres always stay in my heart, so I know what's going on with the changes and how they [are doing]," he added.
Hasek's number will be the seventh to be hoisted to the rafters of First Niagara Center. The others are Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, Rene Robert, Tim Horton, Danny Gare and Pat LaFontaine.
Hasek has entertained thoughts of returning to professional hockey in recent years, though he says he is officially retired. He says when he gets together to play with friends once or twice a week, he usually suits up as a defenseman.