By Stu Hackel
Will goaltenders Dominik Hasek and Cristobal Huet actually return to the NHL and can they really play goal in the game’s best league despite their advancing years and seasons spent overseas? They think so.
Hasek, the 47-year-old former all-world goalie who Ken Campbell of The Hockey News last month ranked as the top European born player of all time, and Huet, who will be 36 in September and was really a journeyman (albeit a well-paid one), have both sought to return to North America and are hoping some team will consider giving them a chance.
We tend to think of the post-lockout NHL as a young man’s league, with many of its top stars achieving that status in their early 20s, if not as teenagers. And then you have to pause and consider the great seasons that some older players logged in 2011-12. Teemu Selanne had another productive season at 41 and is coming back for more. Ray Whitney at 39 had a terrific campaign with the Coyotes, earning a Second Team All-Star selection — and a new UFA contract with Dallas. Daniel Alfredsson, who will turn 40 in December, continues to lead the Senators as their top rightwinger. Nick Lidstrom, who turned 41 in April, was in the discussion for the Norris Trophy in his final NHL season. And after a three-year absence from the NHL, 39-year-old Jaromir Jagr played well enough for the Flyers that the Stars gave him a UFA deal this summer.