Dominik Hasek was inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame in March and will have his number 39 raised to the First Niagara Center rafters sometime next season.
Sometime today, however, he might get the highest honor of his career.
The Dominator is the top new candidate for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Class of 2014 will be announced today in a 3 p.m. conference call from the Hall’s selection committee meeting in Toronto. The inductees will officially became Hall members during a ceremony on Nov. 10.
Hasek, now 49, had seven straight seasons with a save percentage of .930 or higher for the Sabres and won 234 games, second in franchise history to Ryan Miller. He was acquired in a 1992 trade with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Hasek is a six-time Vezina Trophy winner and won Stanley Cups with Detroit in 2002 as a starter and again in 2008, when he was a backup to Chris Osgood. His three straight Vezinas with the Sabres from 1997-1999 mark the only three-peat by a goalie in the post-1967 expansion era.
“I had great years here in Buffalo and I say thank you that I was traded to this city and this organization from Chicago,” Hasek said when he met reporters here in March to discuss his selection to the Sabres’ Hall. “I got a chance to become a starting goalie. … It was an honor for me to play here. This is something I’ll never forget.”
Asked that day about a potential call to the Hockey Hall, Hasek said, “I appreciate it. It’s very nice to be among all those big players. There are new goals in life and there’s always something new to prove. I appreciate that one day maybe I’ll be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But it’s never my goal.”
Swedish center Peter Forsberg, a standout with four teams who won two Stanley Cups in Colorado, and American-born Mike Modano, whose Dallas Stars beat Hasek in the 1999 Cup final, are the other top first-time candidates. Modano had 1,374 points in 21 years with Minnesota, Dallas and Detroit and ranks as the all-time scoring leader among American players.
A darkhorse newcomer to the ballot is three-time Cup-winner Mark Recchi, who scored 577 career goals for seven teams.
There are several interesting holdovers still up for election, led by former Sabres Phil Housley, Dave Andreychuk and Alexander Mogilny. Andreychuk had 640 goals for six teams and won a Stanley Cup for Tampa Bay in 2004. He’s 14th all-time in goals and has the most among retired players not in the Hall.
Other candidates sure to get backing include former coach Pat Burns, defensemen Rob Blake and Adam Foote, wingers Rod Brind’Amour and Paul Kariya and center Eric Lindros.
One problem is that the Hall’s bylaws limit induction to just four players and one builder annually and that is now creating quite a backlog of candidates.
Columbus Blue Jackets president and former NHL goalie and broadcaster John Davidson is in his first year as chair of the 18-man selection committee. Former Philadelphia center and general manager Bobby Clarke is in his first year and is expected to push Lindros’ candidacy. The panel’s deliberations began Sunday.