National Hockey League

Dominik Hasek

Dominik Hasek’s favorite Buffalo memory — Olympic homecoming

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Of Dominik Hasek‘s decorated hockey career in Buffalo, he remembers one moment above the rest.

“There is one situation I will never forget in my life, when we won in the Olympics in 1998 with the Czech national team [in Nagano],” Hasek told media in Buffalo on Tuesday, hours before his No. 39 jersey number would be retired. “We came here back to Buffalo. I knew that people were maybe cheering for us, but this was something I would never, ever expect, to come to the airport and there were thousands of people waiting for me and [Czech and Buffalo Sabres teammate] Richard Smehlik. There were people in our neighborhood when I was coming home. Then the special evening the next day with Toronto Maple Leafs when they sang the Czech national anthem.”

Hasek’s memory is spot on. The reception in Buffalo following the 1998 gold medal was surpassed perhaps only in Prague, where Hasek estimated between 100,000 and 300,000 people celebrated in the streets.

“It probably was the biggest event since 1989 during the Revolution,” Hasek told the Buffalo News in 1998.

The Czech national anthem joined the traditional Canadian and U.S. anthems before the Sabres’ first home game after the Olympics against the Maple Leafs.

Hasek deserved all the praise. He put up one of the most dominating goalie performances in hockey history in Nagano. He reportedly stopped 149 of 155 shots in six games for a .961 save percentage. The best save percentage for any goalie over an NHL season is .941.

Hasek held the U.S. to one goal in the quarterfinals, Canada to one goal in the semifinals and blanked Russia in the final. In the semis, he stopped all five Canadian shootout attempts, from All-Stars Theoren Fleury, Ray Bourque, Joe Nieuwendyk, Eric Lindros and Brendan Shanahan.

Hasek made his Olympic debut for Czechoslovakia in 1988 and also played in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics for the Czechs, winning bronze in 2006 despite barely playing due to injury.

Peter Forsberg and the Olympics

Nicklas Backstrom’s exoneration appealed by WADA

Nicklas Backstrom
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An International Olympic Committee decision to clear Swedish Olympic hockey player Nicklas Backstrom of wrongdoing after he failed a drug test at the Sochi Olympics has been appealed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), according to The Hockey News.

“The decision to exonerate the athlete was recently appealed by WADA to the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” WADA senior manager of media relations and communications Ben Nichols wrote in an email, according to the report.

Backstrom was suspended for the Sochi Olympic gold-medal game, which Sweden lost to Canada on Feb. 23, after it was found he tested positive for pseudoephedrine (PSE) on Feb. 19. He did not initially receive a silver medal.

The IOC ruled on March 14 that Backstrom should receive a silver medal, which he did receive later this year. The IOC also ruled on March 14 that Backstrom’s gold-medal game suspension was justified.

WADA wouldn’t speculate if Backstrom could be stripped of his silver medal if its appeal was successful, according to The Hockey News.

“I don’t really have anything to say about it,” Backstrom told after he had two assists in the Washington Capitals’ 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. “We’ll see what happens. I mean, I thought it was over but I guess it’s not. I don’t really think about it. We’ll see.”

The NHL is backing Backstrom in the WADA case.

“WADA is an organization that has clearly overgrown its original mandate and purpose. It’s a travesty,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in response to WADA’s appeal, according to TSN.

In March, the IOC Disciplinary Commission concluded that Swedish team doctor Bjorn Waldeback made a “serious error” by advising Backstrom that his use of the medicine Zyrtec-D would “not give rise to an adverse analytical finding.”

“The IOC DC took into account in particular that the athlete had been cooperative, had disclosed the medication in question in the doping control form and had relied on the specific advice of his team doctor that the intake of the medication would not give rise to an adverse analytical finding,” the IOC said in March. “There was also no indication of any intent of the athlete to improve his performance by taking a prohibited substance. Based upon these mitigating circumstances, the IOC DC considered that the athlete should be entitled to receive the silver medal and diploma awarded for men’s ice hockey.”

Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski discuss collisions in figure skating

Edmonton Oilers hire Olympic pairs champion as skating coach

David Pelletier
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The Edmonton Oilers turned to an Olympic champion to improve the team’s skating ability. An Olympic figure skating champion.

David Pelletier, famous for winning 2002 Olympic pairs gold with Jamie Sale in the infamous judging scandal, was hired as the NHL club’s skating coach and added to its development staff, it announced Wednesday.

Pelletier, 39, has worked as a power skating coach since retiring, including with the Canadian women’s hockey team.

In 2002, Sale and Pelletier initially placed second behind a Russian couple in pairs but were upgraded to gold when it was realized the results were fixed.

In April, the Oilers brought in Canadian women’s Olympic goalie Shannon Szabados for a practice.

Photos: Curling sculpture unveiled at Olympic Museum