Hasek still in the mix

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- John Muckler is still a charter member of the Dominik Hasek booster club.

The Senators GM told two Ottawa reporters yesterday that he still hasn't ruled out the possibility of bringing the 42-year-old Hasek back to tend goal for Ottawa next season.

While Hasek didn't play for the Senators again after suffering an adductor muscle injury at the Olympics in February, Muckler believes the surefire future Hall of Famer can still help Ottawa win a Stanley Cup.

"He could be back with us, yes. Dominik Hasek is a viable option," Muckler said during a break in meetings at the club's downtown hotel. "If you look at the way Dominik played last year, he was the best goalie in the league before he got hurt.

"We may end up bringing him back next year. That's something we're looking at right now. We're going to speak with him again and we haven't made any final decisions, but that's a definite possibility."

Muckler said he is also studying the possibility of making Ray Emery the No. 1 goalie and signing a free agent or trading for a backup netminder.

"Can Ray Emery be a No. 1? We certainly believe so after the way he played last year and that's something we're going to look at when we're making our decisions," said Muckler.

Bringing back Hasek might make the most sense. A league executive told the Sun yesterday that Hasek's willing to come back for a base salary of $500,000 US with incentives built in if the Senators win the Cup.

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Hasek is also willing to play fewer games (40-45) and would like to work with Emery to help him improve. If that's the case, it might be a gamble that's worth taking.

But before Muckler can think about signing Hasek, he has to get a handle on what kind of money soon-to-be unrestricted free-agent defencemen Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara are going to want to remain here next season.

It's believed that Redden is seeking a contract between $6 million and $6.5 million a season, while Chara's name has been linked to figures as high as $8 million per year.

Muckler was scheduled to meet with Chara's agent, Matt Keator, yesterday to get a handle on where the blueliner stands.

"We have to find out whether Chara is in or Chara is out. We have to find out whether Redden is in or Redden is out. We've got a lot of work to do and we have to see how everything is going to go here," said Muckler.

"The first thing we have to do is try to get a handle on our unrestricted free agents. Then, we've got a guy like Martin Havlat who is going to be unrestricted in a year. Where does he stand? With this new salary cap, you've got to make sure you make the right decisions."

Redden, meanwhile, said his agent, Don Meehan, will be speaking with Muckler on the weekend.

"We'll see what happens. They'll have more discussions and hopefully we'll be able to get something done," Redden said from his Ottawa home.


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