Hasek 'wants to play'

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

Dominik Hasek is a lock to suit up for the Senators as soon as the NHL lockout finally ends.

After fruitful discussions in recent weeks, optimism is growing that a new NHL collective bargaining agreement will be hammered out by July 1.

That would mean the 2005-06 season could start on time. And Hasek is back home in the Czech Republic preparing for that possibility.

Ritch Winter, Hasek's Edmonton-based agent, told the Sun his client made it clear to him in recent conversations that he plans to fulfill his commitment to the Senators if the labour war ends by September.

There has been talk the Senators might have to go shopping for a goalie in the wake of the lost 2004-05 season. But No. 39 remains determined to play in Ottawa next season and has already started scheduling on-ice workouts.

"Dominik Hasek made a commitment to (Senators GM) John Muckler that he would play for the Senators if there's a new CBA in place and he plans to fulfill that commitment," said Winter. "His plans haven't changed."

The Senators plan to pick up the $2 million (all terms US) option on Hasek's contract after the lockout has officially ended. That means on top of his base salary, Hasek would have the opportunity to earn as much $6.1 million if he backstops the Senators to the Stanley Cup.

The question is: Will the year off help him after having surgery last April to repair a chronic groin problem?

"He hasn't played in two years, but I think he'll be fine because I know Dominik and I know that he has the desire to play," said Muckler from his Buffalo home. "You never lose your skills ... you lose your desire and Dominik Hasek has a lot to prove.

"I've spoken with Dominik and I know he wants to play. He was 100% when he was here during (AHL Binghamton's) training camp and he's feeling good. All you have to do is look at what this guy has done in the past and you know he's going to be fine. He wants to prove people wrong. He wants to show he can still be one of the top goalies in the league. He'll be fine."

Before being signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Senators last summer, Hasek had suited up for only 14 games in two years. The lockout lengthened the layoff even further.

"Will (the year off) help? I guess we'll find out next spring if the Senators are in the Stanley Cup and you're there covering the games and I'm there watching him play," said Winter. "That would mean the year off helped him. That's a question I can't answer right now, but he's in great shape."


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