‘Disappointed’ Hasek returns

p>TURIN — The Olympic dream officially died yesterday for Dominik Hasek.

But the Senators goaltender made the right decision when he announced he was going home.

Troubled by a strained abductor muscle (located high up in the rear end), Hasek boarded a flight out of Turin to return to Ottawa to be examined by doctors.

Though Ottawa doctors will have to confirm it, sources say Hasek will be out of action 10-14 days as a result of the injury. It could be longer, but you can be guaranteed the Senators will make sure he’s fully healed before he returns to action.

“I’m disappointed,” said Hasek, who was trying to win his second gold medal after leading the Czechs to a victory in 1998. “But I’m not 100% and I’m not going to be able to help the team.

“If I’m not going to be able to help the team, then there is no sense in me being here. I’m not doing this because of what’s happening in the next couple of months. If I could help this team win, then I would stay here and play.”

The reality is Hasek had no other choice. He has had a history of groin problems and the Senators really didn’t want him to come to the Olympics in the first place.

Senators GM John Muckler couldn’t stop the 41-year-old Hasek from making the trek.

Sources say Muckler, a phone conversation with Hasek on Wednesday, suggested that the goalie should return home to ensure he gets the proper rehab and doesn’t miss more of the season than is absolutely necessary.

The NHL admitted yesterday that teams can make strong suggestions, but not prevent players from competing in the Olympics.

“In our agreement with the (NHL) Players Association and the (IIHF), it says that every player has the right to make their own decision on whether they should go to the Olympics,” said league VP Bill Daly.

NHLPA executive director Ted Saskin was asked if a player who is not healthy should be putting his team first and not running off in the middle of the season to play for his country.

“We believe our players act responsibly and we don’t think that is going to be an issue,” said Saskin. “I think there is a balance that some of these guys want to play for their countries. I know that people want to make judgments, but ultimately it’s the players’ choice (if they want to go to the Olympics) and I believe that is the way it should be.”

Hasek was expected to arrive in Ottawa late last night. He wasn’t alone coming out of the country — he was accompanied by New Jersey winger Patrik Elias, who is out of the tournament with bruised ribs.

Naturally, leaving the Olympics is difficult news for Hasek to take. He came here determined to win the No. 1 job ahead of Nashville’s Tomas Vokoun and was injured just 9:25 into the first period of the Czechs’ first game.

“Our medical staff decided that I’m not able to play ... It’s over,” said Hasek. “Playing in the Olympics was one of my dreams. Tomas Vokoun is a great goalie and the Czech Republic will be okay with him.”

Now, the Senators hope Hasek will be okay for the run to the Stanley Cup in June.