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.

  • homerer

    I am looking forward to the dailies tomorrow where Lowe and Tambo get roasted over the coals for all the false moves they've made since July of 2006.

    The reporters in Edm have never been afraid to shoot straight when it comes to the Oilers brass and I dare say tomorrow will be no different!!!


      • Mike Krushelnyski

        I kind of want to see if Tambo still has the balls to come out and say "we've got half a season left and we like our team and want to see where it's going blah blah blah"

        • This should put everything to rest. Tambo has spoken!

          From Tencer's Twitter


          Tambellini refuses to talk about the trade deadline or future, saying he doesn't want his players to lose focus on the goal of winning now.

          It's no wonder everyone is so infuriated – these guys are watching a totally different team!

          • Ender

            Good lord I actually thought you were joking with that post.

            I kind of wish I didn't check for myself.

            Oh well, it helps explain why Tambellini has been paralyzed when it comes to making trades…it turns out the guy has no backbone.

      • Wow, I'd love to see you say that to their faces. Mildly retarded, hey? Never show his face again? Tough words from an anonymous commenter. Someone's got a case of internet muscle.

        Which NHL team are you GM'ing again?

        • Lofty

          I'v got no problem saying it or putting my name on it…

          Oilers hockey is an embarrassment and Lowe and Tambo should be held accountable. They should crawl out of town and let a top to bottom rebuild begin. They get paid to do a job and are not getting it done they should be ashamed with what they have done.

          I'm not a GM but I am a life long fan.

  • Predicted Tambellini Press Statement:

    "Obviously, this is one more piece of bad news. Our team is struggling right now, but there isn't a team in the league that wouldn't be with their best forward, best defencemen and best goaltender all missing significant time. It's like losing Crosby, Lidstrom and Brodeur."

    "I'm eager to see what this team can do next season when all of our players are healthy. I still have confidence in our team and our coaching staff."

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I hate ragging on a contract so early and there is still hope that Bulin turns out to be like Souray was, but if Bulin pulls the pin Tambo is the only one to blame. I understand the signing of Bulin, but I have to think 2 years is the max you give Bulin unless of course you get him for a mil a year over 4 years.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I'm a little bit pissed off with the whole surgery now. I didn't realize recovery was only 12 weeks, why even give the Cortisone the 8 weeks? It's just a temp fix anyways and for a guy with back problems it was bound to fail. Now what we have is our starter most likely gone for the year and we won't know until next season if Bulin can play or not. Instead they should've done the surgery to start and at least we would have an idea if Bulin would be ready to go next year or if we needed to acquire another goalie.

    • Skidplate

      The thing to remember is that it isn't just a team decision. The player must want to have the surgery. I don't know about you, but I would look at all options before I let some cut me open and perform back surgery. Everytime you get put under, there is a risk you don't wake up…..

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        I realize this. I actually know someone who had some back problems and had surgery go wrong. It took him 5 years to get back to normal after surgery went slighlty wrong.

    • After watching the game last night, I can imagine the only guy who wants to be here is Joey Moss. And he's only here for the great benefits package and sweet game-level seat behind the bench.

  • Ender

    Not to completely derail the conversation or anything, but where in the heck is Wanye these days? Shouldn't he be back by now or something? And where is he that they don't have internet – the Antarctica? Since his little Amsterdam write-up, I've only seen him comment on here once or twice.

    Maybe the current state of the Oilers has him living in a drunken stupour?

    (insert witty jibe here)

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      It'll be interesting to see what this team does before the start of next year. Tambo could very well make 2 or 3 moves and been liked once again.

      Realistically 4-5 trades/signings and drafting top 3 and we could be fighting for the playoffs next year. And I'm not talking about trading for a top all-around d-man and signing kovalchuk

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    Looks like I'm a little late to the party, but I think I remember that cap conversation with Gregor from awhile back.

    Iirc, the cap hit stays to discourage front-loaded contracts for aging players who are unlikely to see their contract to term.

    The restriction does not apply to 1-year contracts because by definition they cannot be front-loaded. I think this is where some of the confusion regarding the first year of the contract has come from.

  • Reading back through those articles just reminds me how much of a screwup this was by Tambellini. For example, this quote from the July 24 piece on injury-prone starters:

    Long story short: if Nikolai Khabibulin, who missed 20 games with injury last season and who has averaged 17 games a year every season since the lockout gets hurt again, the Oilers are unprepared. The Oilers have a less qualified backup than any of these other five teams with injury-prone goaltenders.

    Forgive the quotation; I took a lot of flack for this stance back in the summer when everything was still roses and daffodils and I want to make it very clear that Steve Tambellini needs to be held accountable for his actions.

    The alternative is that he's left unscatched in the G.M.'s chair, where he'll continue to put in the sort of performance that has put the Oilers where they are today.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Why are we supposed to be mad about what Tambs says publicly?

    We're mad when he wont rip his team, but should be happy if he said he's going to trade half the team?

    Why do we care what he says, what he does is what shapes the team.

    • I wouldn't be mad in the least if, at any point over his year and a half as Oilers hockey czar, he'd proven he knows how to be an effective G.M.

      He hasn't. He's shown a woeful lack of ability and now he's refusing to discuss the future for reasons that insult the intelligence of anyone paying anything approaching a reasonable amount of attention.

      I don't especially want to see him rip on the team. I do want to see him acknowledge the problem.

      • danjo1

        I'd like to hope he's trying to do something at least. If he's dismantling the team, I understand not criticizing anyone publicly just because of trade value… But then again, to think that the Oilers can win their way out of this mess is just naive.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        I don't know, the team is clearly in a fragile state. Even though the majority of the fans now want them the lose, and I'm sure managment realizes it's best for them to lose, their job is still to win hockey games. I can see why he would not want to do something that could decreas the likelyhood of them doing their jobs (which saying he's going to trade X, Y and Z amount of players would do).

        He's already said he's looking at who he wants long term, now isn't the time to make rash decisions so who cares if he wants to evaluate individual players for another 20 games before he moves or keeps player X.

        I guess I just don't see why we care if he acknowledges certain problems or not. As long as he knows what they are. (and he may not…but that will be refleted in his actions)

        I am a firm believer that Tambillini is responsible for the vast majority of the Oilers problems, I just don't see "what he says publicly" as a tangible problem.

          • That's a large part of it for me as well.

            It offends me as a fan that they will ass kiss the paying public by talking about how knowledgeable, passionate and committed we are when it comes time to pry the money out of our jeans and yet now that it's evident to even the thirstiest kool-aid drinker that the team is a mess and changes need to be made they seem to be taking the approach that suggests they figure we actually don't get it, understand the situation or can comprehend what needs to be done.

        • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

          People equate 'acknowledging the problem' with the likelihood that Tambo's going to do something other than what he's done for the past 18 months.

          We don't have any reason to believe that he will trade player X at all because he hasn't said anything to that effect, and his track record suggests he might try to sign X to a long-term extension that causes cap issues.

  • Chris.

    I must admit I'm surprised by the mood here today. Apparently all that DFF talk was a lot of hot air. Last night was the best possible DFF scenario: Minicamp…ineffective; Carolina….another win; Khabibulin….out indefinately… So all you self professed DFFers: Where is all your false bravado? Where is all the phoney joy?

    Let's face it… It hurts to lose again and again.

    • Just because we think it's the best thing for us doesnt mean we like it, nor does it mean we think Tambi can competently use the tools available to maximize this opportunity to rebuild.

      Losing sucks, but like Buckley's sometimes it's what you need.

    • You mean Fall for Hall. We DFFers have set our sights higher and are quite pleased how things are going. Would we rather see the Oilers leading the West? Of course. But this beats another 10th place finish. Or maybe you're happy watching that year in and year out.

  • I only bring this up because discussing Eklund rumors is only slightly less depressing than discussing the Oil's play this season, but he's updated the details on the trade rumor. He's mentioned that Cogliano and Halak are involved, amongst (unnamed) others.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      instead of discussing eklund rumours, you should take a meat tenderizer to your testicles for even going to that "site" to begin with.

      it has been shown, more than once, that picking teams out of a hat is more accurate than that fart catching waste of time.

      please, for the love of god, stop going there. and, if you do insist on going there, stop polluting the decent sites with that BS

      • I need things to read at work, I actually find his site quite humorous, there is no logic applied to most of the rumors he creates. NTCs, player concerns, and common sense don't exist in Eklund's world. I was not surprised to find that he had posted a lengthy blog defending Auger in the Burrows controversy. It just seemed so…fitting.

        Also, I have to wonder if a player could be placed on the LTIR for 3 seasons. I'm sure the NHL has a provision to prevent the cap relief from being abused (I mean outside not being able to activate them for the 10 games or 24 days period)

  • Dyckster

    Welcome to the world of C.Y.A.(Cover your Asses) management practice !! How convenient it is to send for surgery now (Khabby) – well played Tams and company : you should have done this along time ago not wait till season is basically tanked . That should make management happy , as they can now blame season on the goaltenders and not themselves !! Why some of these clowns in upper management still have a job with how they have performed is truly a mystery ? Excuses, excuses , excuses with these guys . Chances Khabby will return ,with form after ,are iffy at best and may be short term only . It's annoying they waited so long with what looked like an obvious choice after a couple of weeks .

  • Dyckster

    "The goal of this franchise has always been to ice a competitive team of the highest calibre. While management as a whole still has the utmost confidence in the players that we have and their abilities on an individual scale, it has become clear that the team that has been assembled as a unit doesn't have the depth in all positions to contend with the number of injuries we've seen this year. It's going to require some significant changes to ensure that going forward, we ice a team of players whose varying skill sets cover all facets of the game needed to succeed at this level.

    "And I want to make myself abundantly clear on that point. Our current problems aren't from a lack of talent, skill or drive on the part of individual players that are wearing the jersey game in and game out, but instead from holes in the overall composition of the team that have unfortunately become clear over the course of this season; holes that we fully intend to fill over the coming year, whether that be by trade or free agency or from within the organization."

    Accountability, excuse, and plan all rolled into one without devaluing the bums all of us fans hope get traded as soon as f*ck1n possible.

    • Chris.

      Holes readily identified by many regular fans and media all last season/offseason… Holes that were inexplicably never addressed. Thanks for another great year of evaluation Tambo!

  • Dive for five.

    Fall for Hall.

    Beggin for Seguin.

    Failure for Fowler.

    Neilson & Chase had Central Scouting head man EJ McGuire on this morning. He stated that its his belief that nothing separates the three right now, and that all 3 are likely to be in the NHL next season.

  • So in a worst case scenario, the surgery doesn't have the intended effect and Khabby can't play again, do the Oilers eat that $3.75 mil for three years or buy it out and (I believe this is correct) suffer a roughly $2 mil cap hit for 6 years? Or can we not use that buyout option because of his age?