Until you can find me a better goalie available, who's not going to cost us 4-5million, Dom is a must resign IMO. And I was very skeptical during the offseason. But a couple things have helped change my mind, and this relates to his age:
1. Dom completely revamped his training and conditioning regiment to include some high intensity stretching program to keep his groin in top shape. It apprantly has worked. He' arguably in the best shape of some of our players and he is a health freak. This shows me he wants to win, he wants to be here, he wants a cup. He's doing his part off the ice to stay competitive.
If you want to see the rest of this list, the reasoning behind it and WFM master plan for the return of the DRW to the Stanley Cup Finals... you'll have to click the read more button.
2. Babcock has a veteran backup in Osgood. The system they employed this year, to ensure Dom's health for the playoffs worked. They can do this again. Keep an eye on Dom during the regular season, monitor him closely and give Ozzie some playing time.
3. I don't care if he IS 43 years old, the guy can obviously still play at a high competitive level. JS Giguerre couldn't believe how good Dom was for being that old, he said it in the post game of game 6. He can still stop pucks. His teammates say they've never seen a better and more competitive player at practices. He gives this team a chance to win almost every night. And with a couple of key parts to the puzzle, I think he can be the goalie we need to lead us to the finals and even win us the Cup next year.
4. Opposing teams have a hard time game planning for Dom. Coach Ron Wilson, after the San Jose series, was asked about game planning for Dom and he echoes what many NHL coaches this season have said: "You can't", Wilson said. "He's so unorthodox. Most goalies in the NHL play a certain way, but Hasek doesn't. You can't be sure what he's going to do."
So, who do you guys want in net other than Jimmy Howard? I trust our scouting and development teams when they say they truly believe Jimmy isn't ready And how much are you willing to pay for this goalie? Does anyone on that UFA list (assuming the Ducks re-up w/JSG) compete with Dom in statistics, experience, mental toughness, etc?
Let's take a look at a goalie who we signed last year for 750 thousand dollars--which in the cap era, hell, any system is mighty impressive IMO:
Regular season stats:
56 games played (18th)
38 wins (7th)
8 shutouts (2nd)
2.05 gaa (2nd-more than 8 GP)
.913 sv% (13th-more than 8 GP)
18 games played
10 wins (currently 2nd)
2 shutouts (3rd)
1.78 gaa (3rd--more than 1 GP)
.923 sv% (9th)
The Detroit Red Wings tied for second for lowest team GAA in the league with New Jersey with a team GAA of 2.30. Only Minnesota had a better team GAA with a 2.20. Clearly, our starting goalie and our backup goalie are capable of keeping the Detroit Red Wings at the top defensively. Add to the fact that we have some good defensemen here, and might bring in another one, and I feel pretty good with Hasek and Osgood between the pipes.
The guy finished in the top 10 in nearly every category...and he's 42. So what's one more year?
Now, if you want Dom gone, that's cool, I respect your opinion. But who would you want in net, how much are you willing to pay (because Dom came at one HELL of a value), and what goalie on that UFA list (if we're not talking trade) would you want to play 55-65 games a year in Detroit?
Here's what I would do:
There's something about Detroit that Dom likes. I really believe he loves it here, the rich tradition of the Detroit Red Wings, the fans, the pressure of winning in this city...it's something he thrives on. Dom likes a challenge. He hates to lose. These are the things that I want from a player. He WANTS to be here. He HATES losing. He has to be the best player in practice. He is competitive in everything he does. He said it again in his postgame interview--he really loves this city and this organization. Detroit was the one team he was willing to come out of retirement for: "I almost fell of my bike," joked Hasek. "I did not expect this phone call. I was totally surprised. But if I was going to come back and play in the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings were the one team that I was interested in playing for."
When we had the problems with CuJo, Manny and Dom, and all that crap went down, Dom returned the rest of his salary to the organization--which totaled above 3 million dollars. Ken Holland stated in interviews that that gesture proved a lot to him and the organization about what kind of guy Dom is. "Ken, I didnt come back for the money," Hasek said. "I know I put you in a bad situation with Manny and Curtis. I came back to try to help this team win. Right now, I can't do that. I don't want to be paid another dime of my salary until I walk into this office and tell you I'm 100% ready to get back on the ice." Holland responded to this conversation he had had with Dom in 03. "How many players do that?" Holland said. "From that, I know that money isn't the motivation for Dom. When he's telling me that it's not about the money, it;s about winning the Stanley Cup, my history tells me to believe it. And when I think about Dom practicing that day in Carolina, being the only player to show up for an optional player practice after that long Game 4 that lasted to the wee hours of the morning, I remember his passion."
I don't care what happened in Ottawa between him and Emery and that organization. Ottawa is not Detroit. It doesn't come close. And I don't think Dom holds those two organizations in the same regard. And Dom realized he was wrong, he messed up and gave back his salary to the team. He walked away from that remaining 3 million. Just like it does for Kenny, it also speaks volumes to me.
The players, the captain, the coach and the GM have all stated publicly that they A) believe Dom was the reason we got as far as we did and B) would love to have him back for ONE more year.
Having two goalies, with a combined 3 stanley cups, a wealth of playoff experience and the mental makeup to withstand the pressure of playing goalie in this town for UNDER two million dollars in the cap era is a hell of a good value IMO. And with the cap going up, if we can resign Dom (after giving him a raise for his play) to a similar deal, we can use this extra cash that is not tied up in goaltending to address other parts of our team (defense, forward). This is, of course, if you believe goaltending wasn't the reason we lost.
If Ken Holland can:
1. Structure a contract that is similar to last seasons, with a low-moderate base pay and incentives based on playoffs and performance
2. Get clearance from our training staff and Dom regarding his overall health and the condition of his groin
3. Make sure Dom is continuing with his stretching, strength and conditioning programs during the offseason
Then I would be fine for bringing him back for ONE more year.
If he gets injured, we have a very reliable back up, who is also making less than a million dollars (850K) and can play 30-35 games. We can call up Jimmy in an emergency if need be or another goalie.
I think this town should quit being so harsh on a guy who performed exceptionally during the regular season and had a damn good playoff run for a team that wasn't even supposed to get that far.
In 2008, no matter what happens with Dom, I say thanks for your service in Detroit and I move on. I bring up Jimmy, I resign Osgood (because I think he would be a valuable mentor to Jimmy on and off the ice and he wouldn't cost a much) and I strengthen the rest of my team, particularily my defense if need be. So, it's clear, I'm not asking Detroit to sign Dom for more than one year.
If you don't want Dom, fine....who do you want? Who would you sign from the available UFA list? Would you trade for a goalie? How much would you pay our new goalie? How many years do you want to sign this goalie for?
I laid out my plan and who I am comfortable with, and I will be the first to admit that I was skeptical but Dom proved me wrong big time. I couldn't believe they signed him and I was a bit angry. Again, he proved me wrong on all acounts. We're not talking long term, we're talking about one season and who gives you the best opportunity to win, right here, right now, with this team, this coach, this system.
He's the guy I feel most comfortable with playing goal in Detroit and the guy our current players feel most comfortable with playing goal in Detroit.