I've never been a big Dom Hasek booster, but The Dominator's not a figure you can ignore on the day of his retirement.
For all of the antics and theatrics, he is, quite simply, one of a kind — and one of the best goaltenders hockey has ever seen.
And for someone who wasn't even an NHL starter until age 28 and has only played 50 games in a season eight times, Hasek's had an incredible career in North America.
The hardware: Six all-star games, six first all-star teams, two Hart trophies, six Vezinas, two Lester Pearsons and two Jennings trophies
The numbers: NHL's all-time save percentage leader (.922), 18th in career games played (735), 10th in career wins (389), 11th in career points percentage (.617), sixth in shutouts (81), ninth in goals against average (2.20), 10th in shots against and ninth in saves
As I said, incredible.
Hasek was a Chicago draft pick 25 years ago at age 18, a throwaway 10th rounder used on a teenager who had been named the best goaltender at the 1983 world juniors in leading Czechoslovakia to a silver medal.
The Blackhawks offered him a contract in 1987 after some sterling performances for his home country, including a bronze medal at that year's world championship, where he was again named the tournament's top netminder. He declined the deal and was the Czech league's goalie of the year for five consecutive years from 1986-90.
Finally convinced to play in North America in 1990, he suited up for the Indianapolis Ice of the IHL for $60,000 a season.
At this point, Hasek didn't speak a word of English.
Hasek only played 25 games for Chicago before being dealt to Buffalo at the start of the 1992-93 season, and he outplayed incumbents Grant Fuhr and Daren Puppa to ultimately land the starter's job the following year.
The rest is history.
Hasek's first NHL contract was for five years and $1.95-million, but he renegotiated the final year in 1994-95 and signed a $2.15-million deal. He ultimately made roughly $60-million (U.S.) over a 16-year career in the NHL.
What many don't know is that Hasek is quite educated, with a degree in history and Czech, and he is qualified as a high school teacher.
What we all know is that he reached the pinacle of his career at the Nagano Olympics 10 years ago, leading his country to its first-ever gold medal in the sport.
The 2011 Hall of Fame class has a spot reserved just for him.