Tambellini On Khabibulin

Edmonton Oilers v Colorado Avalanche

After this past season, the Oilers have plenty of reasons to be less than thrilled with last summer’s acquisition of Nikolai Khabibulin.

After all, in training camp the team discovered that Khabibulin has dehydration issues, issues which had come up in the past but which they were unaware of.

After playing 18 games at a reasonable level (Khabibulin was neither brilliant nor brutal, and his 0.909 SV% was a fair bit better than Jeff Deslauriers’ 0.901) Khabibulin suffered a back injury which required surgery, ending his season. Khabibulin had missed an average of about 20 games per season since the lockout, a number he tripled this season.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. In February, Khabibulin was arrested after being pulled over, allegedly for going 70 MPH in a 45 MPH zone, after which he couldn’t provide proof of insurance and failed a sobriety test. He’s since been charged with “extreme” DUI for having a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit and if convicted will face a minimum prison sentence with no eligibility for probation or suspension.

Fortunately for Khabibulin, none of that appears to have affected Steve Tambellini’s view of the veteran goaltender. Tambellini praised Khabibulin as “a good teammate” and said that the Oilers needed the kind of leadership he could provide. Two excerpts from Tambellini’s end of season press conference: 

“The player that was going to be our MVP, Nikolai Khabibulin…” 

“With Nik, Nik is a person that when you do the research on him he has a great reputation. I talked to Jason Strudwick in the year end meetings, and he talked about sitting next to Nik, and recognizing what a great teammate he is, just as a person. He’s won a Stanley Cup, we need people that have that type of experience. He has a reputation when you talk to the Manitoba Moose of what Nik was like with the young goaltenders, and how he helped them, and tutored them, and gave them confidence. He’s not one of those goaltenders that will push the other people away from his net, to make sure they don’t get the net. He’s a good teammate; we need that type of leadership. If we’re going to be a little bit younger in the next couple of years, we want someone like that, that gives them a chance to develop, that gives the team a chance to have some confidence that there’s some stability back there.”

There’s a lot of uncertainty about the Oilers going forward, but if Tambellini is to be believed, Khabibulin isn’t one of the question marks. He’ll be retained to provide veteran leadership and a stabilizing presence in net, and the Oilers will just take their chances that he’s healthy.

  • Starving Student

    what else would one expect? Khabi's 3.7 cap hit is on the books regardless of what happens, whether he retires, bought out or demoted, unless you can find a mike milbury to take the contract off the books, might as well make some lemonade

  • Starving Student

    Tambo needs to get a hold of his self. Bulin contributed nothing to the Oilers this year and collected his 3.5 million. Thank you very much. Then while rehabing in Arizona(? not in Edmonton)he gets a DUI. Jail time is forthcoming. Though Tambo seems to think that this would be the kind of veteran player that the youth should look up to. Emulate. Follow. Ok Hall/Seguin, Eberle, Svenson. You guys go and get bombed and then drive your car ilegally and risk not only your life but those of the public(see MADD). Tambo are you high, or do you have blinders on. J.D. and Dubnyk played thier collective asses off for you this season: in a season where we had 560 man games lost to injury. The defence in front of them was porous at the best of times. So you reward your youth with a trade. We'll have to decide which one we trade say's Tambo. What a wank.That says alot to the team and the fans. We'll reward the dumbass who goes and commits stupid acts because he was Tambo's first big signing and he does not want to look like he made a wrong descision in signing Bulin. He was wrong to begin with. he signed him to a 4 year contract and then overpaid him to boot. Everybody talks about Klow and the bad signings he has made. Tambo started off his reign with probably one as bad as or equal to the Horcoff contract KLow signed. Get rid of the bum. Move forward with JD and Dubnyk. If we are trying to change the culture of this organization why are we trading away players who want to be Oilers and have been brought up in our organiztion. Versus a hasbeen mercernary who obviously does not care about himself, his family, the public, or his teammates.Tell me I am wrong????