Khabibulin To Have Surgery

Jonathan Willis
January 13 2010 11:25AM

The Edmonton Oilers have finally announced what we all suspected was going to happen: Nikolai Khabibulin will undergo surgery to repair the herniated disc in his back.

I don't really have all that much to say at this juncture.  I've contended that this was a poor signing from day one, for a variety of reasons, despite the popular acclaim that Tambellini received around these parts for finally dumping that cantankerous old Roloson and adding a Stanley cup-winning goalie.

Last week I referenced a Pat Quinn comment - that Khabibulin went through something similar last season in Chicago - and concluded the following:

This is about risk management. Had Steve Tambellini signed Khabibulin to a one-year contract, I couldn’t argue forcefully that he’d made a poor decision; it would have been a short-term bet on a player coming off a fine season. If Khabibulin’s performance wasn’t all that good, or a long-term injury issue popped up, come summer the Oilers would have been free and clear.
Tambellini didn’t sign Khabibulin to a one-year contract. He signed him to a four-year contract, despite the player’s age and injury history. It was a reckless move that showed an utter inability to effectively manage risks – and despite Tambellini’s rather short time at the helm, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if it turned out to be a move that led to his dismissal.

My opinion hasn't changed since then; this was an egregious error on the part of the general manager and it, combined with his other errors, has left me with absolutely no confidence that Tambellini can turn this franchise around. Say what you will about Kevin Lowe; he never iced the worst team in the Western Conference.

Anyone interested in a rehash of the other reasons this was such a poor signing can read any or all of the links below:

  • A Bad Day/Where Do We Go From Here: July 1
  • The Official 2009 NHL Free Agent Thread: July 1
  • A Loser Move For A Loser Franchise: July 1
  • Loser Move, Part II: July 1
  • Relentless Incompetence: July 3
  • As The Dust Clears: July 10
  • NHL Games Missed Due To Injury Since The Lockout: July 12
  • Building A Tandem: July 23
  • The (Almost) top 50 Goalies Over The Last Three Seasons: July 23
  • Most Injury-Prone Starters in the NHL: July 24
  • The Goalie Market And Excuses: July 25
  • Testing Ken Holland: July 26
  • The Best Goalies Since The Lockout: July 28
  • Yet Another Angle on Khabibulin: July 29
  • At Least He's Not Likely To Play On Any Warm Days: September 24
  • Is The President 90 Feet Tall: December 13
  • Fool Me Once: December 16
  • Other Than That, How Did You Enjoy The Play, Mrs. Lincoln: December 19

Signing Khabibulin was a bad decision.  The fact that it was a bad decision was painfully obvious from the moment it was announced.  It's a decision that should probably cost Steve Tambellini his job.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#201 GSC
January 14 2010, 09:53AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Interesting, I take the exact opposite stance.

I watched Tambellini inherit a team that just finished 9th overall and was widely regarded as one of the young up and coming teams in the league. He also had a top 20 dman and a proven power forward added to the mix before he took over.

The team had it's holes, no question about that. However most of them would be relatively cheap and easy to fill.

Not only were those holes not filled, they were extrapolated by moving some of the few bodies that fill them and adding duplication.

I agree that it's too early to gas Tambellini (who gets 18 months as GM?) but if theirs not a marked improvement by this time next year his position should be open game.

I take the stance that every element of the old regime in the front office (sans Stu MacGregor) should be axed. I still don't believe that Tambellini really has the reigns over the team, I'm still convinced that Lowe does.

That's strictly my opinion, but in my eyes it's perfectly clear who is the puppet and who is the puppeteer. And yes, I agree that if there's no marked improvement by this time next year then it's time to axe Steve, too...that's exactly what I'm getting at.

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#202 Racki
January 14 2010, 09:57AM
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I will say this:

I didn't want to re-sign Roloson. I did want to sign Khabibulin (although he wasn't my first choice - but he was ahead of Roloson in my books). However, when Khabibulin was signed to a 4-year $3.75M/year deal, my first instinct was.. wow... would have rather had Roli for 2 years than Khabi at 4.

I think pretty much everyone had the foresight to see that this was a bad idea, especially at 35+. And well, hearing that it was the first offer made me even more shocked.

Someone in head office is screwing it up - Olczyk, Tambellini, Lowe, or Katz, or a combination of those guys. The bad contracts were supposed to be a thing of the past when Lowe was bumped out, but it's still happening.

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#203 GSC
January 14 2010, 09:57AM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

Overnight? I don't think I have heard a single person claim that the necessary changes would or could happen overnight.

I think most people would be satisfied at this point with a simple recognition by Tambellini that the roster has significant problems.

I was speaking in generalities, give me a break.

I don't think Tambellini needs to spell that out for anyone, it's pretty apparent for all to see. Now, if he and the front office fail to address these problems by next season, then it's time to hand him his walking papers.

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#204 GSC
January 14 2010, 09:59AM
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@Racki

Lowe, Olczyk, and Prendergast are the main culprits in my book. Each of them has had a huge hand in shaping the club to where it is now.

Lowe: poor management of the organization overall

Olczyk: poor management of the salary cap

Prendergast: poor management of development

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#205 Petr's Jofa
January 14 2010, 10:03AM
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@GSC

I'm off to a meeting so this has to be quick:

Do you Think Tambellini left the Canucks and turned down other GM offers only to come to the Oilers to be a puppet? I doubt it. Although Lowe is involved, Tambellini is the GM and he is the one who is responsible.

As much as you can say that Lowe saddled Tambellini with some bad contract, I do remember Tambellini saying he accepted the job because of the great future this team had. He knew what he was getting into and HE made it worse with the Khabi sigining.

When he traded Cole, everyone was quick to say that Tambellini was putting his mark on this team. Now that things don't work out, it's the evil Kevin Lowe's fault.

Sorry, but this team's biggest problem has been the fact that Tambellini is too scared to give up on anyone. He hoarded all of the small young guys and doesn't aquire any 3rd/4th line vets. The longer he sits around and tries to decided what this team will look like healthy, the more the team will struggle, and the more the player's value will drop. Although, now that we are at rock bootom, I guess there'sno risk of players values droping any farther.

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#206 TigerUnderGlass
January 14 2010, 10:09AM
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@GSC

I was speaking in generalities, give me a break.

Generalities? What is that even supposed to mean in this context?

You suggested that people seem to think the necessary moves will be easy. I suggested that nobody actually thinks that way. Seem like we are both using the same context, so which "generalities" are you referencing?

I don't think Tambellini needs to spell that out for anyone

No sh!t, but apparently someone needs to spell it out for him.

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#207 GSC
January 14 2010, 10:13AM
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@TigerUnderGlass

Lemme tell you something, Pendejo...

We differ on what we think the fan base believes. You might be referring to this site alone, but I'm referring to what I've heard and read overall. Regardless, changes do need to be made.

That much we can all agree on.

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#208 Bucknuck
January 14 2010, 10:14AM
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If Lowe was still GM I don't think this team would be as bad as it is.

Tambellini has taken an average team and done a swandive into the bottom of the league. I think he has proven his capabilities perfectly well in 18 months. It is time for him to go.

Lowe made some mistakes over his time, but on the whole wasn't a bad GM.

Trading Ryan Smyth was a terrible thing, and I think the Horcoff signing was high because he wished to avoid making the same mistake. Too bad Horcoff quit performing at such a high level and made it look like a bad move.

Pisani, Moreau and Staios contracts look high now, but at the time those guys were playing better and were the leadership core of a SCF team. I still don't mind those contracts, though it is now obvious that with the cap staying static and the performance going down that they were an overpay. I think Staios and Moreau need to be traded if possible now.

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#209 jake
January 14 2010, 10:14AM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Did anyone else grit their teeth every time Tambo used the term "MVP" to describe Khabibulin? When was he MVP? I missed that vote.

Is he doing that to pin the blame for this skid on his MVP absence, or is it to play up his effectiveness as a GM in signing the guy. Either way it just makes him look bad.

I hate having my intelligence assaulted. I wish someone else was GM.

Yeah, his repeated use of this struck me. The guy only played 18 games, how can he be the MVP? I don't fault Tambellini yet for the mess on the ice, but this MVP thing is some great deflective spin.

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#210 TigerUnderGlass
January 14 2010, 10:29AM
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@GSC

Pendejo.....wow.

I am impressed with how you managed to maintain an aggressive tone in an otherwise conciliatory comment.

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#211 GSC
January 14 2010, 10:32AM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

Pendejo.....wow.

I am impressed with how you managed to maintain an aggressive tone in an otherwise conciliatory comment.

You've got to be kidding, right?

Look at your avatar on here, that should explain everything.

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#212 Milli
January 14 2010, 10:38AM
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Tambo's had 18 months to show he is a capable GM. Why waste more time? I don't mind Klo getting the axe also, but it's a mute point to me. At the very least, with Klo, I could always tell we still had a pulse. The tight to the cap argument is crap to me, look at Calgary and what Sutter has been able to do as far as movement is concerned. I'm not saying they are one of the premier organizations, but where tambo has done nothing, sutter has acted and added big name player, role players etc....FRUSTRATING.

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#213 roughneck
January 14 2010, 10:39AM
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@Bucknuck

Well in Steves defense during the period of time that Khabi played it was a two horse race. Kind of funny as Khabi had played himself into the Russian Olympic team conversation and some other guy for the canadian. that time frame is a bit of a blur for me but I do recall a steady stream of AHL guys, H1N1 and Souray being used as a toboggan.

However and fwiw, tambo gets a non confidence vote from me as well, its impossible to overlook how weak the Oilers are up the middle and I find that quite inexcusable.

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#214 TigerUnderGlass
January 14 2010, 10:45AM
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@GSC

Yeah I got your reference almost immediately after I hit "post" and realized how stupid my response was.

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#215 GSC
January 14 2010, 10:46AM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

Yeah I got your reference almost immediately after I hit "post" and realized how stupid my response was.

No problem.

As I learned a long time ago, "Nobody F***s with the Jesus."

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#216 Petr's Jofa
January 14 2010, 11:31AM
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@GSC

8 year olds do.

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#217 GSC
January 14 2010, 12:03PM
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Petr's Jofa wrote:

8 year olds do.

What's a pederast, Walter?

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#218 TigerUnderGlass
January 14 2010, 12:16PM
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@GSC

The saddest part was forgetting my own avatar.

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