Tonawanda News — In 1994, he won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's most outstanding goaltender for the first of his six times as a Sabre. He won the Hart Trophy, give to the league's most valuable player, in 1997 and 1998 and is the only goalie in league history to win that award twice. He played five times in the NHL All-Star Game and also won an Olympic Gold Medal as a member of the Czech national team at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.
Those were just some of the many honors Hasek earned in his career. The one major award that eluded him as a Sabre was the Stanley Cup. Hasek and the Sabres advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999 but local fans still remember bitterly how Dallas Stars forward Brett Hull's series-winning overtime goal was allowed to stand, even with his foot in the crease.
While some fans are still not over it, Hasek is.
"It's part of life. You cannot win every game," he said when asked about 1999. "You cannot (always) win the championship. You want to, and try to do the best, but sometimes you don't win. We came so close. I know the goal, it was disappointing for everyone in the locker room, in the city. But it's part of your life. Sometimes you win, sometimes you come close."
Hasek did eventually win the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings, first in 2002 and later in 2008, his final year in the NHL.
Even while winning pro hockey's top prize elsewhere, Hasek kept a presence in Buffalo. He founded Hasek's Heroes in 2001 to allow the city's underprivileged youth an opportunity to play hockey. That program continues to operate today. Hasek, who now lives full-time in the Czech Republic, actively checks in on the program.