BOSTON -- All he was missing was the dark sunglasses and the big gun.
"It wasn't today and it won't be this week," the Dominator said in his own imitable fashion, before borrowing a line made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"But I know I'll be back."
The question of when, however, remains up in the air.
Senators goalie Dominik Hasek took to the ice yesterday for the first time since injuring his adductor brevis muscle at the Olympics --skating casually in track suit, ball cap and carrying a regular stick as the team's morning workout wound down at TD Banknorth Garden.
When all but the injured and extra players departed, he did a series of exercises and tests with strength and conditioning coach Randy Lee. At one point, while skating backwards, Hasek fell and struggled to get back on his feet. But he did not hurt himself or suffer any further damage, and laughed as he restarted the drill.
Later, in speaking with the media for the first time in weeks, Hasek indicated his aim is to get back into action before April.
Then, he also said his goal is to return for the playoffs.
So, just like everyone else, he really has no idea when he'll be able to pull on his No. 39 and stop pucks fired his way in a game again.
"It's good to be back on the ice, but there was still many things I don't feel I'm able to do, so there was no reason to go with full equipment (yesterday)," explained Hasek. "I can feel there is some improvement. I feel stronger. There are certain things I couldn't do two or three weeks ago I can do now. But there are still a few things I cannot do on the ice. I have to wait a few more days, or a week or whenever I can do it."
NOT THIS WEEK
Asked if he had an idea when he'd try putting on the gear and facing shots, Hasek said: "I want to go more times on the ice, but it won't be this week.
"I cannot say I'm disappointed or pleased with the process. I was injured, I knew it wasn't an easy injury. I like (healing) to be faster, but unfortunately it isn't. But I cannot say I'm disappointed.
"I'm still focused, I'm concentrating on what I am doing ... I want to be back this month, definitely. I want to be on the ice and play some games before the playoffs start, so I'll be ready for the playoffs. That's my goal."
When bringing back the hip (area) problem from Italy, Hasek explained the soreness was three inches from the groin injury that gave him so much trouble a couple of years ago. He also said he didn't know if he would be 100% again this year.
He still doesn't, for certain.
"I am not 100% right now, but it's my goal to get complete strength, so then I can practise hard and play hard," he said. "When it's going to be, I don't know."
Added GM John Muckler: "It's baby steps right now. The team's playing well, we're not in any hurry to make any changes. As long as it takes until he's ready to perform with very little chance he'll be injured again, the better off we'll be."