Khabibulin To Have Surgery

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.

  • Arby

    Did anyone catch the media scrum just now? I noticed somthing interesting about Tambo's vocabulary.

    I don't think Tambo's definition of "postseason" is the same as the rest of Canada's definition of "postseason". To me "postseason" means that tournament that starts at the end of the regular season. To him "postseason" simply means "after the season is over".

    So he's like "…. and i'd rather Khabbi gets it done now rather than POST – SEASON."

    And I'm like " Focus for the love of ef! Build a effin team that can make it to the postseason for ef sakes."

    Do you see the two opposing contexts there?

  • Heavyd

    @ Jason Gregor

    On this website, it says that the rush game is at rexall on the 15 but the play on the road.

    Are they playing it on the big screen?

    And can you wacth the games on the NLL website?

    • Jason Gregor

      The Rush are on the road Friday in Everett and Saturday in Colorado. Game time Friday is 9 because it is an 8 p.m. start PST. You can hear the game on TEAM 1260, or you can go to and watch it…

  • so I am at the flames game right now because pittsburgh is in town. Have never seen crosby live before today, so I feel.obligated to comment. Watching that kid play is like watching nobody else in the league. Am blown away.

  • Thinking back to Tiger Woods …..maybe Elin Nordgren should have saved that 9 iron to his teeth and jaw instead for a few of the Oiler guys and managers – just to knock some sense and effort into them ! Now that would be worth the price of admission !!

  • Jason Gregor

    This team is where it is because of Khabby not telling the management that he knew he wasn't coming back,Maybe Tambo made him wait. If the Oilers acted sooner, this team would have had Halak. He was offered to the Oilers for a player on the team. Maybe the Oilers would be in a differnt spot then in the standings, You get goaltending and you never know where it leads to, Avalanche as an example, Even the Kings. Players would have played better and the Vets might be into it. This whole management team has to go. As Lowe said all descisions have to go through him. God bless the EIG, they wanted Lowe gone. Nichols changed that.
    Taylor Hall talk, By the time this kid is ready, Hemsky will be a UFA, there is no way he will stay here. Horc will be Captain, because Lowe won't let the descision to pass to send him into the minors,even though he has passed through waivers with no takers. Khabby will be sitting on the Bench as a backup. Face it Oiler fans we will never see a winning team,(10 out of 30 yrs)we are screwed for a while.

    Check out some great dancing.

  • Khabi was a bad move from the get/go i'm with you JW off with tambo's head and kick it back to van-city.

    Khabi played for chacago the top team in the west so i think it's safe to say it wasn't Khabi that got them to the playoffs. Bad move i hate tambo and Khabi has a cup already.

  • After 3 seasons of a constant rush to Oiler infirmary each season , you'd have thought the Oilers would have realized from the AHL to the NHL ,that you cannot build a contender out of smurf lineups !! The bigger ones are getting hurt trying to hard to cover up for the lack of grit, etc. of these many smurf players the squads are inundated with . Now thats obvious and blunt enough for them to understand lets hope . We need someone like Keenan to come in for rest of season just to clear house and the old useless philosophy . Lets be honest, he can't make us any worse than we already are ,and he has a nose for gritty sized players with some talent and dealings !! Short term Keenan could help – long term i doubt .

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      puhleeeeeeez! as if the oilers arent concerned enough about renewals, you want to bring in a 9 time certified dbag. ugggh.

      ~the flames have made a trade, to the Edmonton Oilers Ollie Jokinen~


  • Bucknuck

    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.

    • Milli

      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.

  • Chris.

    Lowetide wrote: "Steve Tambellini must look upper management in the eyes and say the following: word is out, we're not smarter than everybody else. We don't have a solid foundation of quality veterans, the kids aren't developing and we're wasting a season in which we've spent the cap."…

    I totally agree. During the dark times in the early 90s the Oilers had a couple of really bad seasons and spent four years out of the playoffs… Of course, the last two playoffs that those teams missed they were back on the rise. Tambellini's team keeps getting worse. It's not hard to imagine that the Oilers could spend at least seven consecutive years on the outside looking in.

  • GSC

    I'm a frustrated as anyone, but I'm not quite ready to throw Tambellini into the fire just yet. Remember folks, Kevin Lowe is his boss. It's still the Lowe show, whether the organization wants to admit it or not. The dealings and signings since the end of last season reek of Lowe's presence, and the ridiculous contract situation Tambo inherited here makes changing things that much more difficult. I'm not giving Steve a free pass, as I acknowledge that I was wrong about the Khabibulin signing and have since realized that it was absolutely retarded, but give the man a chance. It's not like he can wave his magic wand and conjure up a deal, esp. in the current NHL atmosphere where trading seldom occurs other than on deadline or draft day.

    I'm just as sick and tired of the "we tried" cop outs that have come from the front office in recent years, and I wish the Oilers could show some action instead of "weighing options" and "evaluating" players prior to the deadline…but that's the reality of the situation. So many are hell-bent on instant gratification, that somehow a mass exodus of the several overpaid contracts will occur overnight. It's not that easy and it's not going to happen that quickly, that should be obvious (although I, like many, wish it would).

    Again, I'm not at all condoning Tambellini's work as of now (although I liked, and still like, the Comrie signing), but let's give the man a chance to move some salary and free up some space before we crucify him. If you want to direct your vitriol at anyone, it should be the Kevins: Lowe and Prendergast.

    • 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.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      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.

      • GSC

        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.

    • Petr's Jofa

      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.

  • 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.

    • GSC

      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

  • Bucknuck

    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.

  • Milli

    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.

  • Yeah, he's not saying, "We have 18 games to figure out if we'll be in 5th spot or 6th spot in the Western Conference."

    I don't doubt that they are using the games between now and the trade deadline to figure out which of these bums is committed and which ones want to be traded.