By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 1, 2001
It is becoming more and more likely Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek will be back next season -- if Buffalo does not win the Stanley Cup. If it does, Hasek likely will hang it up.
The Dominator will make $9-million next season if the Sabres pick up his option, but let's say there is room for restructuring.
"Whatever happens next year won't be about money," Hasek said. "I've made great money over the last nine years. I won't be shopping for $5-million or $10-million. It's not about shopping.
"On the other hand, I haven't said anything. I don't want to say anything until the last day of the playoffs."
Suffice it to say, if Hasek plays, it will be in Buffalo because he doesn't want to move his family for what would probably be one season. The family is comfortable in western New York and has tutors working to improve its language skills.
Hasek also recently donated $1-million to start an inner-city hockey program for Buffalo's youth. He showed up at a news conference with a check for the full amount in his coat pocket. It was the most money ever donated to charity by a Buffalo athlete.
"I realize not every boy and girl is as lucky as my children," Hasek said. "I want to create a situation where quality training, quality equipment and experienced coaches will not be an issue. They will be a standard."
THE OTHER SIDE: We've heard from Toronto's Tie Domi about Thursday's fight with a Flyers fan who fell into the penalty box in Philadelphia. But what about the fan?
"I didn't get a citation from the police because the glass broke," said Chris Falcone of Havertown, Pa. "I never would have been in the penalty box if the glass didn't break. I mean there's a little kid there and an old man, and (Domi) is squirting us with water? He's an a--. He's an a--. I don't look much better, but he got me wet and he got a bunch of people wet."
Do you smell a lawsuit?
"Yeah, I've got headaches now," Falcone said. "And I think I jammed my thumb. The people at First Union (Center) wouldn't even take me to the hospital. They said they'd put me in police custody if I went with them, so I thought I'd better go myself."
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: Colorado's Joe Sakic is almost a shoo-in for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. But the focus always seems to be on his astounding offensive numbers: 40 goals four times, 50 goals once, 100 points five times.
Sakic can play a little defense too, and Avalanche coach Bob Hartley thinks he should get the Selke Trophy given to the league's best defensive forward.
Sakic has won 53 percent of his faceoffs (50 percent is considered excellent); he kills penalties. His 53 blocked shots are more than any other Colorado forward, and he leads the NHL at plus-42.
"He's dominant in every level of the game," Hartley said. "He goes to work every day. He wants to learn. He wants to share. He's a great team guy."
ON THE OTHER HAND: Florida's Pavel Bure has 58 goals and 90 points but is minus-2, and was minus-3 in Friday night's 4-2 loss to the Lightning in which he was scoreless. A HAPPY RETURN: Ray Bourque's first appearance in Boston since last season's trade to the Avalanche was highlighted by the defenseman circling the rink after the game, clapping his gloves.
"I was very happy I had an opportunity to come back and thank the fans," said Bourque, who spent 21 seasons in Boston. "They've been so good to me and really treated me well."
Bourque had two assists, logged 31:46 of ice time and was plus-1 in Colorado's 4-2 victory on March 24.
"I had a great time playing here," Bourque said. "It was great coming back."
ODDS AND ENDS: Colorado defenseman Rob Blake (sprained right knee) is expected to do some light skating today. He should be back for the playoffs. ... The Maple Leafs have not won three straight since December or back-to-back games since February. Going into Saturday night, Toronto was just six points from missing the playoffs. ... Ducks defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky fought off concussionlike symptoms to play March 24 against the Kings -- his 285th consecutive game -- and score the winning goal. Only Chicago's Tony Amonte has played more consecutive games (323). ... Goaltender Damian Rhodes has missed 35 games to injury this season and 80 of 160 games with the Thrashers. ... If Hurricanes goaltender Arturs Irbe plays Carolina's final five games, his 76 starts will put him third in the modern era. "It's not easy, but it's what an 82-game schedule is all about," he said.
-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.