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Khabibulin eager to put offseason behind him for Oilers

TSN.ca Staff

9/13/2011 8:16:49 PM

It seemed like the lone dark cloud that overshadowed an otherwise optimistic offseason.

While excitement and anticipation was building for the Oilers' coming year - a healthy and recharged Taylor Hall, the return of Ryan Smyth and the addition of first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looking to crack the opening day roster, to name a few - veteran goalie Nikolai Khabibulin was busy serving jail time for a DUI.

"Trying to put it behind (me). It wasn't really easy to go though," said Khabibulin, who was on the ice with his Oiler teammates Tuesday. "Wasn't easy for me or my family, and it was even harder for my family. But luckily it's done now, and I can look ahead."

Khabibulin was pulled over in his Ferrari near his Phoenix-area home on Feb. 8, 2010, after the car was clocked at 70 m.p.h. in a 45 m.p.h. zone.

Police said an officer smelled alcohol and Khabibulin was arrested after a field sobriety test showed his blood-alcohol level at .164 - more than double the legal limit.

Khabibulin had appealed the jail term after being sentenced back in August of last year.

But rather than fight the 30-day sentencing with an appeal, the 38-year-old accepted his fate, to put the distractions aside and put together a full training camp, as he tries to regain the form that made him a $15 million commodity when he signed with the Oilers in 2009.

"I didn't want to deal with it another year or whatever the timeframe would be for that, that's why I did what I did, so I can come to camp (and) be over with it and just concentrate purely on hockey," said Khabibulin, as he served the first 15 days of his sentence in jail with work release. He spent the second half of his sentence under house arrest. He will have to wear an ankle monitor and is subject to random alcohol testing.

He is coming off his worst season as a pro, as he went just 10-32-4 with 3.40 goals against average and an .890 save percentage with the Oilers in 47 games. Khabibulin is entering his 16th season in the NHL.