The Dominator of Czech Republic leaves Olympics

Czech Republic goalie Dominik Hasek is out of the Olympics because of an injury sustained minutes into his first game. Hasek told Czech team officials on Friday he was heading home, without the second Olympic medal he wanted to win. The 41-year-old Hasek was the star of the 1998 Olympics, the first to rely mostly on NHL players, for the Czechs, shutting out Russia in the gold medal game.

Pavel Kolar, a physical therapist for the Czech team, said Thursday the six-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top goalie had a tense muscle in his left leg, an injury sustained in the first period of a 4-1 victory over Germany on Wednesday.

However, Hasek's injury may actually be to his groin, he has a history of such injuries. The Ottawa Senators goalie is expected to return to Ottawa this weekend to begin treatment, and it is not known how many NHL games he might miss once play resumes later this month.

Hasek's departure leaves Nashville Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun as the Czechs' top goalie for the rest of the tournament. The Czechs, the defending world champions, were beaten by Switzerland 3-2 on Thursday in a major upset and have a 1-1 record through two games of their five round-robin games in group play. The Czech Republic did not medal in Salt Lake City in 2002 after winning the gold four years before.

Vokoun, seen as the top backup goalie in the Olympics, started in place of Hasek on Thursday and took the loss while making 16 saves. "I just played bad," Vokoun said.

Hasek, known as The Dominator, was injured when he went into a split to stop a shot during a German power play about six minutes into Wednesday's game. The two-time NHL MVP didn't face another shot for the next few minutes, but left the game when play stopped 9 1/2 minutes into the period.

Afterward, the Ottawa Senators goalie suggested the tight schedule that allowed some players to spend only one day in Turin before their first games and the long flight from the United States may have contributed to his injury.

The Czechs are also dealing with an injury to New Jersey forward Patrik Elias, a late replacement for New York Rangers rookie Petr Prucha, who pulled out because of a knee injury. Elias bruised his ribs during a check from a Swiss player, and his status for Saturday's game against Finland (2-0) is uncertain, reports the AP.

N.U.

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