Update On Khabibulin

EDMONTON, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 23: Nikolai Khabibulin #35 of the Edmonton Oilers looks on during the game against the Calgary Flames on September 23, 2009 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

I suppose this article could be taken as further proof that I hate Steve Tambellini. Or the Oilers. Or possibly just Mondays.

I wanted to pass along an update on Nikolai Khabibulin’s back problems, and unfortunately the news isn’t particularly good.

Over at mc79hockey.com, Tyler Dellow has done some digging through the documents filed in Nikolai Khabibulin’s DUI case, and one of the things he discovered was a letter dated May 24 from the surgeon who has been working on Khabibulin. Here’s the most relevant excerpt (for the full letter, see here):

He is under activity restrictions. We hope for a full recovery, but that has not occurred at this time. He is making progress and we will reevaluate his condition in June 2010.

As Dellow points out, the initial recovery timetable supplied by Khabibulin’s agent was 12 weeks – early April, in other words, meaning that the recovery has already taken 60% longer than expected.

Of course, this isn’t dire news at this point: the letter is over a month old, and the Oilers are still a long ways from kicking off the 2010-11 season. It is however something to be concerned about, and perhaps provides additional context for the Oilers’ decision to qualify both Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk.

As a side point, Khabibulin’s surgeon appears to be this man (although I suppose it could also be his son), and if so at least his back is in good hands. Watkins has a fairly long track record of performing surgery on athletes from a range of professional sports; his previous hockey clients include John LeClair and Mario Lemieux.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    One has to wonder if the probability of this scenario was in the back of Tambellinis mind all along. The Oilers only had to pay Khabibulin…what, 1 of the 3.5 he was due last year? This isn’t the recommended way to throw 2 rookie goaltenders into the deep end and see which one would sink or swim, but those kids needed games one way or another, maybe it worked out better than Steve expected, it’s not as if Steven didn’t have an opportunity to bring in another journeyman back-up at some time. If Khabibulin retires because of this back injury doesn’t insurance pay his salary for the next 3 years? I know it counts against the cap but how close to the cap does a team hoping for a few lottery picks have to be?

  • DonovanMD

    Is it bad of me to hope for another tank season and #1 pick? If the Oil go with JDD and Dubby for another season and suffer another rash of injuries, suck early and decide to leave the kids on the farm so as not to burn through a year of eligibility, restock more young talent next summer, would that be a bad thing to you?

    It would be hard to watch, but maybe a better option than scraping by with Khabby if he plays and being the same old 8th place (or slightly worse) Oilers team.