In June of 2001 Hasek was traded by Buffalo to Detroit and in his first season with the Red Wings he became the first starting European goalie to win the Stanley Cup. That erased once and for all the perception that European goalies couldn’t excel in the NHL — a perception that came about in part because NHL rinks are 15 feet narrower than European rinks meaning shots would come at the goalies from a shorter distance. Also fueling this perception were questions over the mental toughness of European goalies and whether they could withstand the contact that was part of the NHL but not part of the style of play in Europe.
Part of the fun of watching Hasek play came through how aggressive he was and how he wanted to contribute in so many ways. Early in his career this led to him often leaving the net to play the puck. But the older a goalie gets the longer the trek seems from the corners back to the net and that along with post-lockout rule changes for goalies and the fact that Hasek wasn't a particularly good puck handler kept him close to home.
The appreciation of Hasek’s style and his play came not only from fans and the media. When the Red Wings go to training camp other players wanted to stand around and watch the goalie because he was so dynamic even in practice.
A coach or a general manager would get a stomach full of knots watching Hasek’s acrobatic style of goaltending but from a fan’s standpoint there was great enjoyment in doing so because of the athleticism involved and how he played as opposed to how goalies with a butterfly style perform. Butterfly goalies generally present a picture of composure while Hasek generally presented a picture of being out of control. But he also presented a picture of greatness — one which will be missed.
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