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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#1 Next Year Country
January 13 2010, 11:30AM
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Why have they waited so long to make this decision? It would have made sense to do this earlier and give him more time for rehab.

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#2 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 13 2010, 11:31AM
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I think Quinn needs to take at least a little heat as well. You don't take an injury prone goalie and the ride the $*** out of him.

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#4 oilguyry
January 13 2010, 11:36AM
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Sell sell sell

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#5 The Towel Boy
January 13 2010, 11:38AM
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~Well, we'll have him back just in time for our playoff run.

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#6 Tha Legion
January 13 2010, 11:41AM
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Hope his back is correct next season

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#7 Hemmertime
January 13 2010, 11:42AM
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Yay, now all we have to do is send Horc and dive for Five is solid.

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#8 Chris.
January 13 2010, 11:45AM
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Props to Racki for coining the the nickname: Rehabibulin! Nice.

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#9 AO
January 13 2010, 11:45AM
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There is no way that is a bad signing. Yes he is aged... But you cannot say that he wasn't playing to the value of his contract prior to the injury. If he career is done, you have free cap space to sign another UFA goalie.

Everyone is pining for Roloson but he is 40 and if he got injured I am sure the blogs would be filled with the cry of it being a bad signing.

They chose the best goalie available and he was doing the job, injury was unfortunate. Injury risk something every player faces, you can't hedge against that.

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#10 Harlie
January 13 2010, 11:46AM
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SSSSSHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWKKKKKKKKKAAAA! Robaxacet boy is out for the season.

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#11 Chamucks Deluxe
January 13 2010, 11:46AM
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Gosh darn, it's like a slowly progressing drunken stupor all season; my display picture keeps looking better and better. And so do my odds of sleeping wi- errr.. Yeah.

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#12 Dan the Man
January 13 2010, 11:47AM
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Had we retained Roloson where would we be? Firmly in 9th - 12th spot?

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#13 MattL
January 13 2010, 11:48AM
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Willis, I do agree with you. However, if you were trying to convince Dany Heatley to play for your team and you had JDD and Dubnyk as your starting goalie tandem, you might make a move for the biggest name goalie available too.

Signing Khabby CAN'T be analyzed in a bubble, because the decision wasn't made in a bubble.

Maybe it should have been, but it wasn't.

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#14 Archaeologuy
January 13 2010, 11:49AM
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@AO

Actually, based on the price of goaltenders this summer, Khabibulin was NOT playing to the value of his contract, since the value of his contract should have been determined by the market.

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#15 MattL
January 13 2010, 11:50AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Actually, based on the price of goaltenders this summer, Khabibulin was NOT playing to the value of his contract, since the value of his contract should have been determined by the market.

The value of his contract WAS determined by the market. How else could it have been determined?

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#16 Jmask5
January 13 2010, 11:50AM
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Whatever if we get Hall it will be worth it.

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#17 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 13 2010, 11:50AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Original Ogden Brother:

All of which goes back to Tambellini. Who signs a veteran starter for premium money and term when the starter can't be relied upon to play a bunch of games?

Nah, not all of it. most, but not all.

only a handful of goalie play 65+ games (6 last year, 10 the year before). "premium" money would be 5 - 6 million per year, the team gave average money and should have been looking for average production.

Bulin played in 18 of the first 21 games (a 70 game pace). Expecting him to play 70 games is ridiculous.

Sitting out another 3-4 games to start the year may or may not have saved his back. But playing him that often certainly didn't help.

That falls on coaching.

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#18 Lisa McRitchie
January 13 2010, 11:51AM
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@ AO if he retires his salary still counts against our cap. The best hope is that he sits on LTIR and can't play if you want to look at it that way.

I thought it was a lateral move and wasn't sold on the contract. Now, I'm hoping he gets well and can earn the remaining three years of his deal.

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#19 danjo1
January 13 2010, 11:53AM
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Tha Legion wrote:

Hope his back is correct next season

Or that he decides to retire. If I remember correctly, the Oilers won't be on the hook for his salary cap hit if he does choose to retire because of injury, right?

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#20 Archaeologuy
January 13 2010, 11:53AM
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@MattL

He was signed for well over the going rate for quality goaltenders this past summer. The market value of Khabibulin was ignored and he was overpaid.

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#21 Dyckster
January 13 2010, 11:54AM
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AO wrote:

There is no way that is a bad signing. Yes he is aged... But you cannot say that he wasn't playing to the value of his contract prior to the injury. If he career is done, you have free cap space to sign another UFA goalie.

Everyone is pining for Roloson but he is 40 and if he got injured I am sure the blogs would be filled with the cry of it being a bad signing.

They chose the best goalie available and he was doing the job, injury was unfortunate. Injury risk something every player faces, you can't hedge against that.

Read the article again, we willingly signed an injury prone, aged tender for FOUR YEARS. JW indicated knowing everything we did at the time a 1 year deal made more sense. History suggested he was going to get hurt....a lot. Why commit all the time and resources? Plus you don't sign a guy on the hopes he gets permanently injured. You can hedge against injury if the past suggests as much.

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#22 The Real Scuba Steve
January 13 2010, 11:54AM
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Steve Tambellini should lose his job, he pretty much did nothing to improve the Oil roster to compete in our tight division since he has been here. Kevin Lowe should hit the bricks too.

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#23 Lisa McRitchie
January 13 2010, 11:55AM
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@danjo1

I thought because he was over 35 when he signed his contract, his salary still counts.

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#24 homerer
January 13 2010, 11:55AM
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MattL wrote:

The value of his contract WAS determined by the market. How else could it have been determined?

By that logic Horcoff's contract was determined by the market, as well as Pisani's, Penner's (up until this year), and Souray's. Really do I need to continue? The market gives a range that it likely ideal for a player. Who ever gives the contract doesn't have to abide by those rules and can offer whatever they want. Which is why this is a bad contract.

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#25 6 ring circus
January 13 2010, 11:55AM
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The way the Oilers organization is being run, maybe Harold Ballard has come back reincarnated as Daryl Katz.

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#26 MattL
January 13 2010, 12:00PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

He was signed for well over the going rate for quality goaltenders this past summer. The market value of Khabibulin was ignored and he was overpaid.

The market value is what someone is willing to pay. I agree the market value for Khabby was higher than we'd all like, because he was about the ONLY legitimate cup-winning #1 starter, but it was still the market value. We just happened to sign him when the market was pretty limited.

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#27 MattL
January 13 2010, 12:00PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

He was signed for well over the going rate for quality goaltenders this past summer. The market value of Khabibulin was ignored and he was overpaid.

The market value is what someone is willing to pay. I agree the market value for Khabby was higher than we'd all like, because he was about the ONLY legitimate cup-winning #1 starter, but it was still the market value. We just happened to sign him when the market was pretty limited.

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#28 Nesquik
January 13 2010, 12:01PM
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@Archaeologuy

What would market value have been for him? Or, what cap hit would you have liked?

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#29 danjo1
January 13 2010, 12:02PM
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@Lisa McRitchie

I could swear I saw an article by Jason Gregor saying that if he were to retire in the first year of his contract due to injury, his salary doesn't count against the cap... I just can't find the article.

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#30 Offthebandwagon
January 13 2010, 12:03PM
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JW: Is Khabibulin's contract going to be a cap hit even if he retires due to the injury? Isn't his age a factor? I thought if a player over 35 retires, his salary is still considered cap hit to discourage teams from signing players to long-term contracts with front-loaded salaries. In other words, we're screwed are we not?

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#31 Ender
January 13 2010, 12:04PM
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Lisa McRitchie wrote:

I thought because he was over 35 when he signed his contract, his salary still counts.

Good questions posed here; if Rehabi can't come back at all:

1) Are the Oilers on the hook for the remaining three years of his contract?

2) What is the effect on the Oiler's cap hit if we need to sign a replacement tender?

I believe that the answers to those questions are yes we pay Khabi for three more years but that his salary does not count against the cap. Can anyone confirm?

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#32 Archaeologuy
January 13 2010, 12:04PM
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@MattL

people pay well over market value for all kinds of items. Cars, comic books, etc. Why do you think it is impossible to pay over market value for an injury prone 36 yr old goalie?

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#33 Bob Cob
January 13 2010, 12:05PM
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Well apparently Halak is coming to Edmonton, along with the Kostitsyn brothers, for one of Souray and Stortini, or Cogliano or Smid. Its from Eklund and is considered to be done but Eklund is an idiot who lacks common sense something I have realized isn't as common as I once thought.

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#34 Victoria
January 13 2010, 12:05PM
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The day after Roloson gets a shutout and improves to a 18-7-6 record...with the Islanders.

I thought last season was embarrassing for Oilers fans, I though we hit rock bottom. It sucks being wrong.

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#35 Dan the Man
January 13 2010, 12:05PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

He was signed for well over the going rate for quality goaltenders this past summer. The market value of Khabibulin was ignored and he was overpaid.

And no other UFA in history has ever been overpaid?

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#36 Hemmertime
January 13 2010, 12:05PM
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danjo1 wrote:

I could swear I saw an article by Jason Gregor saying that if he were to retire in the first year of his contract due to injury, his salary doesn't count against the cap... I just can't find the article.

Probably was him saying "No" that it doesnt come off the books. I think 100k comes off the books if bought out or retires.

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#37 Homie
January 13 2010, 12:05PM
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AO wrote:

There is no way that is a bad signing. Yes he is aged... But you cannot say that he wasn't playing to the value of his contract prior to the injury. If he career is done, you have free cap space to sign another UFA goalie.

Everyone is pining for Roloson but he is 40 and if he got injured I am sure the blogs would be filled with the cry of it being a bad signing.

They chose the best goalie available and he was doing the job, injury was unfortunate. Injury risk something every player faces, you can't hedge against that.

His stats are very similar to JDD's. Signing any player over 35 years old to a 4 year contract is a bad signing.

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#38 MattL
January 13 2010, 12:06PM
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homerer wrote:

By that logic Horcoff's contract was determined by the market, as well as Pisani's, Penner's (up until this year), and Souray's. Really do I need to continue? The market gives a range that it likely ideal for a player. Who ever gives the contract doesn't have to abide by those rules and can offer whatever they want. Which is why this is a bad contract.

Yes, they were all determined by the market. If you've got less labour that wants to come work in your city, you're going to wind up paying more. There is the same labour demand in each of the 30 cities, but less supply for Edmonton than say, Detroit, or New York, or LA... There are no rules that say you can only pay a certain type of player only so much, that's not how markets work. There is a salary max and a salary min, and all the teams have to work within that framework, and it's up to them how to divide it up from there.

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#39 Dan the Man
January 13 2010, 12:07PM
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Ender wrote:

Good questions posed here; if Rehabi can't come back at all:

1) Are the Oilers on the hook for the remaining three years of his contract?

2) What is the effect on the Oiler's cap hit if we need to sign a replacement tender?

I believe that the answers to those questions are yes we pay Khabi for three more years but that his salary does not count against the cap. Can anyone confirm?

If he retires the Oil are the hook for the cap hit but not his actual salary.

If he remains on LTIR the Oil are on the hook for his salary but are allowed to exceed the cap by the amount of his cap hit.

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#40 Hemmertime
January 13 2010, 12:09PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

He was signed for well over the going rate for quality goaltenders this past summer. The market value of Khabibulin was ignored and he was overpaid.

We signed him day 1 of Free agency, right after Roli went. Roli was signed for 2.5 for 2 years. If anything that was the bar that set the market before we signed Khabby, 1 mil more for Khabby over Roli? Fair in my eyes. After day 1 market value for goalies dropped. We couldn't know how cheap goalies would go for (even though market was flooded) so we went out and paid what we thought we would need to to get the best goalie that was UFA. The length was bad, but dollar figure seems fine for Khabby.

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#41 Dan the Man
January 13 2010, 12:10PM
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danjo1 wrote:

I could swear I saw an article by Jason Gregor saying that if he were to retire in the first year of his contract due to injury, his salary doesn't count against the cap... I just can't find the article.

I believe there is a provision for 1 year contracts for players over 35 that if they retire it doesn't count against the cap. i.e. Brendan Shanahan and the Devils this year.

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#42 Dyckster
January 13 2010, 12:17PM
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Victoria wrote:

The day after Roloson gets a shutout and improves to a 18-7-6 record...with the Islanders.

I thought last season was embarrassing for Oilers fans, I though we hit rock bottom. It sucks being wrong.

AND Schremp scores 2 in the same game. Like........WTF did we do to deserve this?.

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#43 Chamucks Deluxe
January 13 2010, 12:25PM
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@Dyckster

2 at even strength.

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#44 Offthebandwagon
January 13 2010, 12:25PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

If he retires the Oil are the hook for the cap hit but not his actual salary.

If he remains on LTIR the Oil are on the hook for his salary but are allowed to exceed the cap by the amount of his cap hit.

I guess we'll get to see how much of an Oiler fan Katz really is.

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#45 KenL
January 13 2010, 12:26PM
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AO wrote:

There is no way that is a bad signing. Yes he is aged... But you cannot say that he wasn't playing to the value of his contract prior to the injury. If he career is done, you have free cap space to sign another UFA goalie.

Everyone is pining for Roloson but he is 40 and if he got injured I am sure the blogs would be filled with the cry of it being a bad signing.

They chose the best goalie available and he was doing the job, injury was unfortunate. Injury risk something every player faces, you can't hedge against that.

I agree with everything you said except the part of "best goalie available." Clearly Craig Anderson would had been a better and cheaper acquistion. It's unfortunate the Avs have a better goalie scout than the Oil.

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#46 Chris.
January 13 2010, 12:27PM
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Re the Rehabibulin contract.

It's smart to lock up effective players who are just entering their prime to long term deals. (ie.Hemsky) Conversly, it's stupid to lock up effective players who are leaving their prime to long term deals. (ie.Khabibulin)

This team simply has more stupid contracts than smart contracts.

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#48 Dyckster
January 13 2010, 12:28PM
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Chamucks Deluxe wrote:

2 at even strength.

Kicked when we're already down!

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#49 Victoria
January 13 2010, 12:31PM
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Oh, and Happy 37th Birthday, Khabi...

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#50 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 13 2010, 12:35PM
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No heat on Quinn for playing him 18 out of 21 games?

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