Friday, July 31, 2009
July by the Numbers concludes with jersey #31, an Original Six Turn Back the Clock jersey.
Dominik Hasek became the youngest player in in professional hockey history when, at age 16 he suited up for HC Pardubice in the Czechoslovak Extraliga in 1980. He would play for Pardubice for nine seasons, including winning the championship twice in both 1987 and 1989 and be named the top player of the Czechoslovak Extraliga in 1987, 1989 and 1990 as well as the Goaltender of the Year for five consecutive seasons from 1986 through 1990.
He would play one season for Dukla Jihlava in 1989-90 before moving to North America as the restrictions on players from communist countries were now lifted after what would have been a highly successful, complete ten year career for many, but due to his record setting early start as a teenager, Hasek was still only 26 years of age.
Drafted 199th overall in the 10th round back in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, when players from communist countries had little chance of ever playing in the NHL, Hasek would not even find out he had been drafted until several months later! He would begin his time in North American hockey in the same place Wayne Gretzky started his professional career, Indianapolis, Indiana, playing for the Indianapolis Ice of the IHL in 1990-91. He would make his NHL debut that same season, a 1-1 tie vs. Hartford on November 6th. He would see action in five games for the Blackhawks - eight years after being originally drafted. His first win would come on March 8, 1991, a 5-3 win over his future club the Buffalo Sabres.
The following season, backing up Chicago's then number one goaltender Ed Belfour, Hasek would split his time between Chicago and Indianapolis, playing in 20 games for each club. He would post a 10-4-1 record with a 2.60 goals against average that season for Chicago and would earn his first of 81 career shutouts with a 2-0 blanking of the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 9th, 1992. The Blackhawks would make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals that year before losing to the Mario Lemieux led Pittsburgh Penguins. Unable to win the starting job from Belfour, Hasek would be traded during the offseason to the Buffalo Sabres where he would begin the next phase of his career.
The jersey I am featuring today is a 1991-92 Chicago Blackhawks Turn Back the Clock Dominik Hasek jersey worn by Chicago during the NHL's 75th anniversary season when Hasek wore #31, after initially wearing #34 during his first season with the Blackhawks.
As part of the celebrations of the NHL's 75th anniversary in the 1991-92 season, the Original Six teams, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Montreal and Toronto, all wore a Turn Back the Clock jersey from their past at various times throughout the season. The Blackhawks "barberpole" jersey was originally worn in the 1937 season and did not feature any sleeve numbers.
This jersey does feature the NHL 75th anniversary patch, as worn by all players during the 1991-92 season.
Here is a collection of many great saves made by Hasek in the 1992 Cup Finals versus Pittsburgh while playing for the Blackhawks.