ESPN.com’s Rumor Central today is reporting the Blackhawks are close to working out a deal that would loan Nikoloai Khabibulin to a team in the Continental League (KHL) in Russia. The Russian team would pay most of Khabibulin’s salary and the Hawks would get his contract off the books for cap space.
This is a weird one to me if it’s true. Ray Emery was persona non grata in the NHL this summer so the KHL was probably his best option, and for Wade Dubielewicz it’s probably a more lucrative route than backing up Rick DiPietro. But Khabibulin is still a first-string goalie who lifted the Blackhawks out of the NHL basement and played over 50 games last year. Seems to me his only sin is having a hefty contract ($6.75M) hanging around his neck.
If I’m Khabibulin and deciding between Russia (where a KHL goalie was beaten up and robbed last week) and Los Angeles (where 60 degrees F is considered winter) I’m grabbing my shades and heading to Hollywood. Unfortunately it’s not his choice right now so I hope GM Dale Tallon allows him to stay in the NHL.