Реклама в Интернет * Все Кулички
|19 сентября 2008
Blackhawks goalie competition? Khabibulin up for it // Chicago Tribune
By Chris Kuc
Count Nikolai Khabibulin among those surprised the Blackhawks added another proven starting goaltender during the summer.
After playing an average of 53 games over the last three seasons, the 35-year-old finds the crease a bit crowded now with the acquisition of free agent Cristobal Huet.
"When things like that happen, it's kind of surprising," Khabibulin said as training camp for the 2008-09 season opened with media day Friday at the United Center. "It's out of my control, so I just go along with it. It's going to be a competition and I'm up for that. Whenever I get a call, I'll just go out and play. That's all I'm worried about."
Khabibulin, who is in the final year of a contract that will pay him $6.75 million this season, had a 23-20-6 record last season and a 2.63 goals-against average, his lowest as a Hawk.
All signs pointed to Khabibulin beginning this season as the Hawks' No. 1 goalie, but when free agency rolled around July 1, general manager Dale Tallon pounced on the top netminder available and signed Huet to a four-year, $22.54 million contract.
Can you say goaltending controversy?
"They're both No. 1s," Tallon said. "They're both excellent, they're both qualified and it gives us a chance to win every night. In the discussions we've had with them, they seem to want to battle for the job. That will be a positive."
Khabibulin said splitting time with Huet "wouldn't be my first choice," but he was ready to battle for playing time.
"The whole thing is a challenge," Khabibulin said. "Every year is a challenge, every game is a challenge. Cristobal seems like a really nice guy. I think it's going to be fun to work with him."
With the Hawks just below the NHL's $56.7 million salary cap, a $12 million goalie tandem doesn't leave Tallon much wiggle room to supplement the rest of the roster. The Hawks still could trade Khabibulin to a team needing a goaltender who helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup in '04.
"[Trade rumors don't] bother me as much as, let's say, four or five years ago when I heard it the first time," he said. "The older you get the better you deal with things like that."
Coach Denis Savard said it's likely Khabibulin and the 33-year-old Huet will play the same number of games the first month of the season, "but that's going to sort itself out as we move along."