Dominik Hasek has officially retired from the NHL, most probably for good this time.
As posted many times on this site, I consider Dominik Hasek to be the greatest goalie ever. He won 6 Vezinas and 2 Hart Trophies, and led the league in save percentage for 6 years in a row, even despite competing head-to-head against Patrick Roy. Hasek played with some decent backup goalies in his career (like Fuhr, Roloson, Biron, and Shields), and his numbers still blew them all away. No goalie has even come close to piling up the individual hardware Hasek has without playing on a dynasty or a very dominant team.
All his accomplishments came despite coming over late to the NHL (and not even getting a chance to play right away in Chicago). If Hasek had played another 5-6 full seasons in the NHL, there would probably be no doubt about his all-time ranking.
Here are a couple of my all-time favourite statistics that show how good the Dominator was at his peak, taken from this post comparing Hasek and Brodeur:
From 1993-94 to 2001-02, Dominik Hasek faced 1,060 more shots than Martin Brodeur, and gave up 135 fewer goals.
Looking at only age 29-34 seasons, Hasek faced 1,494 more shots than Martin Brodeur, and still gave up 41 fewer goals.
And here's one last one (St. Louis fans might want to turn away): Between 1995-96 and 2000-01, St. Louis had a strong defence led by Pronger and MacInnis. Buffalo's top pair was Zhitnik/Smehlik. In those six seasons, Buffalo allowed 2,781 more shots against than St. Louis. Yet 40 more goals were scored against the Blues than against the Sabres.
I repeatedly preach the mantra that goalies are usually only as good as the team in front of them. Dominik Hasek is certainly the biggest exception to that rule that I have ever seen. Goalies can't do everything on their own but an elite goalie can have a very large impact, something that is particularly obvious in the career of Dominik Hasek, the best there's ever been.