Edmonton Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has completed half of his punishment for charges related to his extreme DUI incident during the summer of 2010. The Russian goalie can now put 15 days at “Tent City” behind him, as he began the 15-day house arrest portion of the 30-day sentence on Sunday. (Scott Davis of KHPO also points out that he is required to complete an alcohol program and pay a $1,500 fine.)
Barring any unforeseen issues, Khabibulin should be able to participate in the Oilers’ spring training camp sessions. It’s quite possible that he might have some difficulty holding off Devan Dubynk (and maybe even Yann Danis) for playing time, although the Oilers won’t be able to bury his $3.75 million salary cap hit in the minors because of his 35+ contract.
Perhaps both sides can make the best out of a bad situation because Khabibulin’s contract won’t run out until July 2013. It’s reasonable to believe that those off-the-ice issues affected his focus during the last season, but old age and a shaky defense might make it difficult for him to put up significantly better numbers. Then again, some of Khabibulin’s best work came when people expected little of him, so this would fit right in. (The parallels would be even stronger if he was in a contract year, but that won’t happen until 2012-13.)
As long as his 15 days at home go off without a hitch, Khabibulin can continue his attempts to repair his image both on and off the ice as time goes on.