Dominator Demoted By Sabres
Oct. 22, 1999
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Dominik Hasek has been just about everywhere in hockey including the 1998 Olympics and last season's Stanley Cup finals.
Now add one dubious destination for the Dominator: the bench.
The winless Sabres sat their struggling goaltender after one period in a loss to Nashville and have decided to let him stay.
``We started Dom the other night and he struggled,'' said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, whose team fell to 0-5-2 with a loss to the Predators in which Hasek and backup Dwayne Roloson each gave up two goals.
Promising third-string goalie Martin Biron will start against Carolina tonight as the desperate Sabres try to avoid the worst start ever for the franchise.
``There's always competition,'' said Hasek, who plans to retire at the end of the season and return home to the Czech Republic with his family. ``You have to prove every night and in every practice and every game that you can be the starting goalie.''
Hasek has played inconsistently. How long he remains idle depends on 22-year-old Biron, the team's first-round draft pick in 1995.
``We'll start Marty and see if he can get the job done,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Thursday. ``If Marty wins, he's going to play. That turns up the competition level, too. The team needs that fire right now.''
Hasek admitted he was lacking some spark after he allowed two goals on eight shots in the first period including one at 46 seconds in a 4-3 loss to the Predators on Wednesday night. One thing that bothered Ruff was Hasek's apparent lack of emotion.
``It just doesn't seem that our goaltenders are on top of their game,'' Ruff said.
Hasek vowed to work hard to win his job back. ``I have to solve it,'' he said. ``I have to play better.''
The Sabres called up Biron from the team's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y. ``I was surprised and happy at the same time,'' Biron said.
The wiry and acrobatic Biron, a Hasek clone in appearance and style of play, had a 1-2-1 record and a 2.14 goals-against average in six appearances with the Sabres last year.
The Sabres are winless in seven games, the longest a Buffalo team has gone without a victory at the start of a season since the 1990-91 Sabres began with four losses and three ties. ``This is getting out of hand,'' defenseman Jason Woolley said.
Another loss would set a franchise record for games played without a first victory.
``That's a distinction that we really don't want to be associated with,'' Ruff said.
Hasek, a notoriously slow starter, has allowed more soft goals than usual. He struggled with a groin injury last season that plagued him through the playoffs.
Ruff is running low on patience with his goaltender, a two-time league MVP who won the Olympic gold medal in 1998 and has been voted the NHL's top goaltender five of the last six years.
``When he's focused, he gets himself in a zone,'' Ruff said. ``We haven't seen that zone yet.''
In six appearances, Hasek is 0-3-1 with a 3.04 goals-against average and 15 goals allowed. His .911 save percentage pales next to last year's .937, the best of his career.
``There's been times in and out of games where you've seen those incredible saves and it seems like he's not going to get beat, but he hasn't really put it together for a full 60 minutes,'' Ruff said.
``Changing the goalie is the biggest move you can make on a team,'' Woolley said. ``We'll see if it works.''