by | Aug 1, 2006 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

I unroll my Joe Namath poster. I dig out my Mickey Lolich trading cards.

“What are you doing?” my coworker asks.

“Didn’t you hear?” I say. “Dominik Hasek is back. He’s the Red Wings’ goalie again.”

“So?” he says.

“So?” I say. “Who knows what’s next?”

I find my white shoes from the Billy (White Shoes) Johnson era. I pull them over my Fab Five gym shorts. I lift an old can of hairspray, Dry Control, by Vitalis.

“What’s that?” my coworker says.

“Pistol Pete?” I say, giving a spritz.

“You’re nuts,” my coworker says.

I’m nuts? Hang on. I’m not the one bringing back a 41-year-old goalie. I’m not the one signing a guy who’s not only been a Red Wing twice before, but the first time he left to retire!

I’m not the one giving the starting job to a guy whose groin muscles are so tight, they snap when he wiggles his toes.

“Dominik Hasek?” I say. “Is this 2002? And if so, can I buy Google stock?”

And the Pistons could sign Ralph Sampson

I shake out my Billy Sims jersey. I pull on my Bjorn Borg headband.

“Have you seen my Members Only jacket?” I ask my coworker.

“You’re crazy,” he says.

I’m crazy? Dominik Hasek? Didn’t we say good-bye to him – twice? Wasn’t he going back to the Czech Republic to rest on his laurels and sell clothing with his name on it? Didn’t he unretire and the Wings signed him again – mostly to keep anyone else from having him? Didn’t he leave here with a bad groin and we figured, well, this time he’s done for good? Didn’t we figure that?

Didn’t he say if there was a lockout, he would likely be finished? And wasn’t there a lockout? But he wasn’t finished. He played for Ottawa last season before another groin injury stopped him.

And now he’s a Red Wing again.

And I’m crazy?

“I hear Joe Frazier is in the gym,” I tell my coworker. “And Bill Buckner is taking ground balls.”

“Come on,” he says. “They’re long gone.”

Not if they follow the Hasek formula. This guy has more lives than a room full of Garfields. He makes Lazarus look lazy. KISS hasn’t done this many comeback tours. You know when Hasek was originally drafted? In 1983. You know who else was drafted in 1983? Ralph Sampson in the NBA and Eric Dickerson in the NFL.

“Wait,” I say. “Do you hear that?”

“What?” my coworker says.

“Joe Theismann taking snaps.”

It’s crazy, it’s desperate … it just might work

“To some degree, you’re buying time,” GM Ken Holland said Monday, when asked about Hasek’s age and groin issues. “But you’re buying time with a guy who is one of the greatest goaltenders in the history of the National Hockey League.”

Does this mean we have to call him “The Dominator” again? Isn’t that a little like asking us to say “Bless You Boys” to Jim Leyland’s Tigers, or to sing “Another One Bites the Dust” when Jon Kitna enters Ford Field?

What’s next? Chris Osgood is already on his second tour with the Wings. Igor Larianov has been through here a few times – what’s one more for old time’s sake? Hey. Mike Vernon is out there somewhere. Come to think of it, I’m sure Gordie Howe has a few more games in him.

“For the money ($750,000 for one year, the rest in incentives), I think this gives us two veteran goaltenders,” Holland said. “Worst case scenario, if Hasek’s groin acts up two-thirds of the way through the season, maybe, by that point, our young goaltenders will have enough experience.”

Hmm. I guess that makes sense. And Hasek was always fun to watch. Of course, we cringed when he made those flopping saves. I guess now we’re going to cringe and listen for a “pop” sound.

What the heck? I slide on my Jim McMahon sunglasses. I paste on my Walt Frazier sideburns. I find a record by Chubby Checker. Dom is back. Some say it’s crazy. Some say it’s desperate. You know what Chubby Checker says?

Let’s twist again. That’s what he says.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or malbom@freepress.com.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

Subscribe for bonus content and giveaways!