Maybe it's time for a backup plan

TIM BAINES -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Dominik Hasek could have stumbled on an icy patch outside his Ottawa home, injuring his leg in the process.

He could have pulled a back muscle while shovelling snow off a driveway.

He could have, but he didn't.

There are many ways to hurt yourself, especially if you're 41-year-old Hasek -- old enough to father some of his NHL contemporaries.

And, let's not forget, this is a guy who makes a living by throwing his body in the way of speeding pucks. Injury risk is part of the game.

But it still blindsided us when we got the startling and unsettling news yesterday that Hasek had left his hunched post in the Czech net long before the game was over -- injured and in plenty of apparent pain to his leg.

Damn Olympics. Forget the Czechs and their Olympic chances -- this guy is our meal ticket, our key to a Stanley Cup victory -- which we envision culminating in a parade that will painfully remind Maple Leafs fans of their 39-year ineptitude.

Soon enought to be a 50-year itch. Can you yell "1967?"

Yep, we need Hasek. Probably even more than we need any one of our other stars -- guys like Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Wade Redden, Zdeno Chara and even our captain, Daniel Alfredsson.

Fact is, we're not going to win a Cup without Hasek stopping pucks. Many of us still wake up with the shakes thinking of Patrick Lalime, who on some nights couldn't stop a beach ball.

Ray Emery is a good goalie. A bit of a rebel, mind you, but that's not always a bad thing. But ... fore! ... we have to suddenly fear that the golf season might start a bit earlier for the Senators if Hasek is unable to answer the bell.

Assuming Hasek is able to shake this off, some good may come of this.

Maybe, with one of GM John Muckler's fingers on the panic button, we should be targeting another goalie, a backup with some big-game experience. Not exactly something that grows on trees.

Hasek is old. He may be brittle. He's good, the best we've got.

But maybe we need a backup plan. Then we can start planning the parade with a little less apprehension.


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