Bowman big believer in Hasek

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

Scotty Bowman isn't sure if NHL hockey will be back this year, but he's convinced Senators fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about goaltender Dominik Hasek.

The retired Hall of Fame coach should know since he and Hasek won a Stanley Cup together with the Red Wings in 2002.

And Bowman isn't worried about Hasek's ability to perform in net for Ottawa despite not seeing much action the past two seasons.

"I was asked about this earlier and I just went back to the fact when I was in St. Louis (in 1968) and we brought back a guy named Jacques Plante when he was 40 years old and he hadn't played in three years," said Bowman.

"We've just (signed) him and I get a call that he needed knee surgery in the summer. But Jacques Plante was fine because he came back as strong as ever and had (1.96) goals-against average. I feel the same way about Dominik Hasek ... I know what he can do. Even if he misses two or three years, he'll still be fine."

Bowman, meanwhile, still thinks there could an NHL season.

"I just find it hard to believe that we would go a year without having somebody being named the 2005 Stanley Cup champion. That being said, I know that they're going to have to find the right deal to satisfy both sides," he said.

REMEMBERS NEILSON

Bowman was in town for yesterday's "Raise the Roof for Roger week" charity breakfast to kick off funding events for Roger's House, which is being built at CHEO in honour of late Senators assistant coach Roger Neilson.

While Bowman spent much of the time talking about the memory of his good friend Neilson, who died in June, 2003 after a lengthy bout with cancer, he couldn't avoid the subject of the lockout.

Bowman isn't sure where a solution is going to be found. He listens to the arguments between the owners and the players, but maintains he's not privy to any information that isn't in the public right now.

But, Bowman said, for the good of the game the two sides must come to an agreement. He said there's still time to strike a deal.

"What the players have to realize is that some teams are operating under a cap right now. They're not going to spend any more money. The players are fearful of what a cap might be if the NHL gets one," said Bowman.

"I'd just like to say that I'm still optimistic that something can be done and I'm still hopeful. I don't know how long the deal is going to be, but I'm sure that both sides could find something.

"You just hope there's talks."


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