Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 29

Hasek hoists the Stanley Cup at the Wenceslas Monument.
(Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
Few players have dominated their position like Dominik Hasek. It seems almost redundant to mention his nickname ('The Dominator'). But it was with great sorrow that on June 9, 2008, immediately following Detroit's Stanley Cup victory, the hockey world was informed of his retirement. He is a six-time Vezina Trophy recipient as the NHL's most dominant (there's that word again) netminder, and won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player in back-to-back seasons. In 2002 and now 2008, he was a key member of Stanley Cup championships in Detroit. And in 1998, he backstopped the Czech national team to an Olympic gold medal in Nagano, Japan.

Following Jiri Hudler's day with the Stanley Cup, Dominik Hasek took his second and final tour with hockey's legendary trophy. The goaltender greeted the Cup in Prague, and with his best friends, took the trophy to Wenceslas Square. There, stands an immense and dominant (sorry) statue of St. Wenceslas posed atop a mighty steed. Although late into the evening, Dominik had pictures taken with the Stanley Cup posed in front of the statue, which, by virtue of its immensity, is a natural gathering spot for tourists ("meet me by that big horse statue"). Seeing the Stanley Cup as well drew even more tourists and police arrived to ensure that all remained orderly, which it did.

"The Dominator" gets the party started by filling the bowl of the Cup with some Champaign.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The next morning, Hasek took the Stanley Cup to a sporting goods store he owns, where he was met by young minor hockey players, who were as thrilled to see their goaltending hero as they were hockey's magnificent prize.

A family friend orchestrated a special dinner for Dominik on the outskirts of Prague, and there to celebrate with the Red Wings goalie were friends from Detroit, Buffalo and Ottawa, as well as from the Czech Republic. Numbered among the guests were agent Rich Winter and former NHL star Frantisek Musil.

The party continued until midnight, but Dominik wrapped things up at that point. "Thank you to everyone," he said. "Tomorrow, I leave for France with my family, so I'll say goodnight and thanks to you all."

* * *

An all-night drive carried the Stanley Cup to Dubnica, Slovakia, home of Tomas Kopecky. Dubnica is in the Trencin region of Slovakia, an area rich in hockey talent. Zdeno Chara, Marian Gaborik, Marion and Marcel Hossa and Kopecky represent just some of the hockey talent rising from the Trencin region of Slovakia.

Tomas Kopecky hoists the Cup at his hometown of Dubnica, Slovakia. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The rain was beating down on the pavement as Tomas took possession of the Stanley Cup on Saturday, August 9. Jiri Hudler joined his teammate for the day, The pair took the Stanley Cup into the U.S. Consulate in Bratislava, which drew a large crowd. Interestingly, they met hockey fans from Tulsa, Oklahoma and Indianapolis, Indiana working at the consulate who drove in specifically for the opportunity to see the Stanley Cup.

While in Bratislava, Tomas took the Stanley Cup to the town square, where a band and dancers entertained him and the fans who came to see hockey's Holy Grail.

Kopecky returned with the Cup to his hometown, and was welcomed at a family-owned hotel for a victory celebration. The party was warm and wonderful, and Tomas took little time in pouring a delicious soup, indigenous to that area, into the bowl of the Cup, and was joined by family and friends in spooning mouthfuls of this wonderful thick treat out of Lord Stanley's soup bowl.

* * *

The Cup returned to Prague, then flew to Russia to spend a day with Pavel Datsyuk, and you'll read that story in the Stanley Cup Journal on Tuesday.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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