Originally created 12/23/99

Hasek still is planning on retiring after season



BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Two-time most valuable player Dominik Hasek, has reaffirmed his decision to retire but again suggested he might change his mind.

"Of course, you think about it a lot when you are injured," the Buffalo Sabres' goaltender said Wednesday after his daily treatment for a groin injury. "But I didn't change my decision."

Hasek told the Czech newspaper Sport this week he is thinking about postponing his retirement.

"I don't really know what was in the Czech paper," Hasek said. "I didn't expect to be injured the whole season and finish my hockey career like that, so of course I think about everything. But I haven't changed my mind yet."

Hasek announced in July he would retire at the end of this season. But he had a slow start and has not played since injuring his groin Oct. 27.

He hoped to return by the middle of December, but isn't sure when he might be back in net.

"It's getting better very slow," he said. "I can still feel the pain. I know I won't be back on the ice in 1999, but I hope I'll be back in the next millennium."

Hasek's teammates say they have no idea whether Hasek will be back or not.

"It's more for media to have fun with," defenseman Jason Woolley said. "As far as we're concerned, he's not playing."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff believes Hasek's injury has caused the goalie to reconsider.

"He's looking at it that he's been injured and doesn't want to go through this year having a bad year or not playing at all," Ruff said.

Hasek was the NHL's top goalie five of the last six seasons and is the only goalie to be named MVP twice.

Hasek, who has a career 2.28 goals-against average and .926 save percentage, stumbled to a 1-4-1 start this season. Buffalo is tied for third place in the Northeast Division with a 14-15-5 record.

His replacement, rookie goalie Martin Biron, is 12-6-1 and has proved to be reliable.

"He's playing consistently, which is a lot to ask of a young goalie," said forward Dixon Ward.

Biron says he doesn't worry about when or if Hasek will replace him, and is ready to step aside when Hasek returns.

"When he comes back, he gets the spot he deserves," Biron said. "I've played 19 games this year; he's played how many? I'm going to learn a lot from him."

STARS:

Just as Dallas seemed to put their bad start behind them, it took two heavy hits.

Defenseman Derian Hatcher, who leads the NHL in ice time with an average of 30 minutes eight seconds, suffered a cut calf muscle Friday after being kicked by Edmonton's Todd Marchant. He's expected to be out four weeks. In the same game, center Joe Nieuwendyk injured rib cartilage and is day to day.

That made their acquisition of defenseman Kevin Dean and signing of free agent Kirk Muller last week look prescient. Dean is adequate and Muller has the grit they lost when they let Verbeek and Dave Reid go last summer. The Stars also asked defenseman Craig Ludwig about ending his retirement, but he declined.

FLAMES:

Grant Fuhr underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and will be sidelined at least three weeks.

Dr. Nicholas Mohtadi removed scar tissue and cleaned rough surfaces in the knee in what Flames general manager Al Coates described as a routine procedure.

Fred Brathwaite will replace Fuhr in goal for the Flames, while Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been called up from the Saint John Flames of the AHL.

Fuhr, 37, has had problems with his knee since he was injured in the 1996 playoffs while with the St. Louis Blues.

Brathwaite is 8-7-2 with a 2.20 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.

Fuhr is 5-9-2 with a 3.66 GAA and a .858 save percentage.