Dominator: 'I'm worried'

Ottawa Senators goalie Dominik Hasek listens during a press conference yesterday at Scotiabank...

Ottawa Senators goalie Dominik Hasek listens during a press conference yesterday at Scotiabank Place as team physician Dr. Don Chow talks about the groin-area injury Hasek suffered last week at the Olympics. (Ottawa Sun/Brigitte Bouvier)

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

The good news is Senators goaltender Dominik Hasek doesn't think he'll be out for the rest of the season with a groin injury.

But the man upon whom the Senators' Stanley Cup hopes rest admitted yesterday he's worried if he will be able to get back to the 100% health he enjoyed for the first four months of the NHL season.

If he's worried, so should every Senators fan who was hoping the 41-year-old Hasek would be their ticket to Stanley's promised land.

"Of course, I'm worried. I'll be honest. I'm worried," said Hasek, who met with the media along with Senators team physician Dr. Don Chow at Scotiabank Place yesterday. "But, on the other hand, I want to do all the best I can to get on the ice as soon as possible. I hope I can be in the same shape as I was during the season. I have to admit I'm worried. It's a difficult situation for me.

"You can play if you are maybe not 100%, but that maybe can affect you. I want to be back and be in the best shape again. That's why I'm worried. I think there's nothing bad about it, it's normal."

EMERY NO. 1 ... FOR NOW

No time line has been set for Hasek's return and he all but ruled out being ready for when the NHL resumes for Ottawa a week from today in Pittsburgh against the Penguins.

"I don't think it's possible, to be honest. Maybe, but there is very little chance," he said.

That means the Senators, who have been a .500 team since Jan. 1, will have to count on Ray Emery, Hasek's inconsistent backup, for the time being. Emery got off to a great start (5-0), but has struggled in his last four starts, winning just once with a .779 save percentage.

Hasek, who has a long history of groin problems, strained a muscle in the adductor group high in his right thigh a week ago at the Olympics in the Czech Republic's game vs. Germany. He said it is three or four inches away from where his previous injury was. He missed all but 14 games of the 2003-04 season with a groin problem, which required surgery while with Detroit.

TREATMENT GOING WELL

Dr. Chow said it is a mild strain and it has responded well to treatment in the three days since Hasek has been back in Ottawa.

Dr. Chow wasn't happy with the quality of the MRI images that accompanied Hasek back from Italy, so another one was done yesterday.

"So far things have proceeded very nicely. The pain is settling down quite a bit," said Dr. Chow.

"At this point we're just following the rehab and seeing how he feels. The main thing is we want him to be totally confident with that groin and whatever time it takes it's going to take. From our point of view, the sooner the better, but we must make sure that Dominik can perform to the expectations he has."

For now, Hasek will undergo physiotherapy and exercises to build strength in the muscle.

Hasek said he knew right away he was hurt when he did the splits to make save early in the game against Germany, the Czechs' first game of the tournament.

"I felt a sharp pain. When I made a save I felt a really sharp pain and I knew right away it (was) bad. I didn't know right away that I (couldn't) continue to play in the Olympics or how long it was going to be, but I knew right away it (was) bad," he said. "How bad is it? It's hard to describe. It's a little bit different than in the past. It's a little bit different area."

Hasek said he was disappointed to have to leave his Czech teammates, but will continue to root for them.

"When I packed all my luggage to leave the village, I felt so sad," he said. "At the same time, I was starting to focus on the trip here and get ready as soon as possible.

"It's not one week (since the injury), but I definitely feel better. I feel almost pain-free, which is a good sign, but there is lots of work ahead.

"My focus is changing. It's to get back on the ice, be 100% ready and get ready for the playoffs. That's my goal right now."


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