DETROIT (AP) – Dominik Hasek was the final piece of Detroit’s championship puzzle in 2001. The Red Wings are now looking for a repeat performance.

The Red Wings took a page out of their history book while looking toward the future, and signed the 41-year-old Dominator on Monday to a one-year contract worth $750,000.

“Dom seems very committed and very excited about an opportunity to come back to Detroit and try to help our team win a Stanley Cup,” general manager Ken Holland said. “We really see Dom coming into training camp as our No. 1 goaltender. Bringing Dom back is a real positive for our team and is very exciting.”

The Red Wings needed help in goal. They posted the NHL’s best record in the regular season but following it up with a first-round playoff elimination against Edmonton.

Hasek, who helped the Wings to their most recent Stanley Cup title in 2002, is returning to Detroit after an injury-plagued season with the Ottawa Senators. He joins another Red Wings Cup-winner, Chris Osgood, who was brought back as a reserve.

“I couldn’t believe when Ken called me and told me they are interested in me coming to Detroit. I knew right away it was a wonderful opportunity,” Hasek said.

After deciding not to bring back Manny Legace following a strong regular season and poor postseason, the Red Wings made finding a starting goalie their top priority. They explored the trade market, spoke to three teams and took a close look at Ed Belfour, whose 457 victories rank second on the NHL list. Negotiations broke down, leading Belfour to sign a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers.

Hasek, who will begin his third stint with Detroit, earned $1.5 million with the Senators last season. Ottawa said goodbye to the six-time Vezina Trophy winner earlier this month and replaced him with former Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Martin Gerber.

Detroit acquired Hasek the first time in 2001 in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres, where he had been since 1992. He backstopped the Red Wings to the championship during his first season in Detroit and then retired that summer.

But Hasek resurrected his career and rejoined Detroit for the 2003-04 season. That created an uncomfortable goaltending triangle with Curtis Joseph and Legace. Hasek played in just 14 games, going 8-3-2 with a 2.21 goals-against average, before a chronic groin injury ended his season.

Hasek went 28-10-4 with a 2.09 GAA in 43 games last season with Ottawa but didn’t play after injuring his groin while playing for the Czech Republic in the Turin Olympics. Hasek hoped to play during the postseason but never fully recovered.

“I do all kinds of sports, testing my groin,” Hasek said. “At this point, it feels great. That’s my goal, to feel great the whole season.”

Hasek said he hasn’t discussed his playing schedule but wouldn’t mind playing 45 to 55 games.

“I don’t have to play 65 games like I used to. It’s not necessary at all,” Hasek said. “I want to be playing my best hockey when the playoffs arrive.”

Hasek, 41, has a career record of 324-206-82 in 638 NHL games. He ranks fifth among active goaltenders in wins and 18th overall. His 68 shutouts are third best among active players and 12th highest on the league’s career list. He also won the Hart Trophy, awarded for the NHL’s most valuable player, twice in 1997 and 1998.

AP-ES-07-31-06 1700EDT

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