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20 декабря 2001 года.
Holdout in Phoenix hasn't slowed down Khabibulin // St.Louis Post-Dispatch

By Derrick Goold

TAMPA, Fla. - A contract dispute would disrupt his near future, but in his last game in net for the Phoenix Coyotes, Nikolai Khabibulin knew nothing was coming except the puck. 

In Game 7 of their first-round series of the 1999 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blues pelted Khabibulin with 35 shots. The reason the Coyotes were there in Game 7 was Khabibulin. Heck, the reason they were in the playoffs was Khabibulin. 

And Khabibulin dueled Blues goalie Grant Fuhr through 77 minutes, 59 seconds of shutout hockey. Pierre Turgeon's deflection got by him in overtime. The Blues moved on. Khabibulin wouldn't be seen again for almost two seasons. 

"It was a classic goalie-against-goalie game - every shot to the net, you've got to kind of hold your breath," Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. "He was always a goalie who could keep his team in it." 

Now, Khabibulin is enjoying a resurgence in Tampa Bay. 

"Now, I hear them saying he's stronger, as well as he's playing at a whole different level," Quenneville said. "Total control of the game. One of the people I've talked to who has seen this team is comparing him to (Dominik) Hasek of five years ago. That's quite a statement." 

A couple former Coyotes on the Blues would easily buy that praise for Khabibulin. He likely will start in net tonight against the Blues at Ice Palace. 

The Lightning's deal last March for Khabibulin has rejuvenated this 10-year-old franchise with talk of playoffs. Khabibulin ranks second in the league with five shutouts, and two of those victories were 1-0. He has the highest save percentage in the league, stopping nearly 94 percent of the shots he sees. 

"What a steal for Tampa Bay," said Blues winger Keith Tkachuk, a former captain of the Coyotes and Khabibulin's teammate. "This kid is a franchise player." 

He was the first of the stars to dart the Phoenix franchise. Several months after the Game 7 loss in May 1999, Khabibulin began a contract holdout. He wanted a paycheck reflecting his worth to the club. 

By January, he found himself signing with the Long Beach IceDogs of the IHL. In 33 games he went 21-11-1 and led the league with 1.83 goals-against. But he took the risk of getting lost in the minors, never bobbing back up to the NHL pool. 

He did with the trade to Tampa Bay. And he came back better. 

"I wanted to do a little bit more than I usually do to get ready," said Khabibulin, who signed the richest contract in team history, $23.25 million over four years. 

Khabibulin, who played two games for the Lightning last season, worked out with Russia's national team in the offseason. He trimmed his body fat to 9 percent and said he gave up smoking. He doesn't slurp the coffee during games that would lead to dehydration. 

"I felt Nik was very sloppy in his conditioning, and he would just rely on his tremendous skill," in Phoenix, said Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella, an assistant with the Coyotes from 1997 to '99. "He really pushed himself. He's a totally different athlete than I saw in Arizona. 

"When someone has something to prove ... there were some shots taken at him - calling him greedy, they said he'd never get back to that level. He knew he had the confidence to get back to that level. And, I think, he wants to bring a team like this that has struggled, bring it up with him." 

He has. 

From tapping his chest to acknowledge when he's at fault for a soft goal to being as brilliant or better as he was for six games and 78 minutes against the Blues in 1999. "His work ethic is just phenomenal," Tampa Bay goaltender coach Jeff Reese said. "His will is to be one of the best in the world ... and he's willing to do what that takes." 

Страничка Николая Хабибулина на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


11 октября. Показатели Хабибулина продолжают подать. 

7 октября. Воробьев помог Хабибулину одержать первую победу в составе «Блэкхаукс». 

23 сентября. Хабибулин пока не показывает свой лучшей игры. 

5 августа. Хабибулин перебирается в Чикаго. 

29 марта. Хабибулин и Лекавалиер в центре внимания прессы Тампы. 

2 февраля. Николай Хабибулин: "Думать в воротах - непозволительная роскошь" - Спорт-Экспресс

22 ноября. Афанасенков против Хабибулина // "Спорт-Экспресс"

23 октября. Хабибулин и Каспарайтис - в "Ак Барсе" - "Спорт-Экспресс"


"ЗВЁЗДЫ С ВОСТОКА" @ c 1997 года