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Nikolai Khabibulin faces DUI trial today, may go to jail

Nikolai Khabibulin

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2009, file photo, Edmonton Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, from Russia, swats away the puck during an NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames in Calgary, Alberta. Khabibulin is facing DUI and speeding charges in Arizona. Scottsdale police say an officer pulled over Khabibulin’s Ferrari shortly after midnight on Feb. 8 after the car was clocked at 70 mph in a 45 mph zone. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh, File)


Nikolai Khabibulin’s terrible off-season might get a lot better on Friday. Or a lot worse. Khabibulin’s trial for extreme DUI is set to happen then provided it isn’t delayed like it has been the last few times. Jim Matheson of The Edmonton Journal lays the facts on us on what will be in Khabibulin’s future should things not go his way.

If he’s found guilty, Khabibulin could spend a minimum of 30 days in jail for the misdemeanour. The maximum sentence is six months. He could be sent to Tent City, the military camp in the Arizona desert where the convicted wear prison stripes. They have also been known to wear pink underwear under the watchful eye of hard-line sheriff Joe Arpaio, the legendary lawman who has been featured on the CBS News program 60 Minutes.

Khabibulin would miss two weeks of Oilers training camp, which starts with medicals on Sept. 17. It would further complicate a hardscrabble road for the veteran goalie, who only played 18 games last season before his back gave out on him and he required surgery.

Clearly this trial has major implications on what happens with the Oilers this season. Having a player go to jail doesn’t happen very often in the NHL and clearly if Khabibulin goes to jail their decision to retain both Devan Dubnyk and Jeff Deslauriers looks smarter. If Khabibulin is cleared, then the Oilers will have a bit of a crowded crease with three goalies on one-way NHL contracts.

We realize that Nik Khabibulin isn’t really on many fans’ radar, especially playing in Edmonton, but given the charges he’s facing (speeding, extreme DUI), the real threat of jail time and the fact that Khabibulin is a former Stanley Cup-winning goalie it’s a story that’s a bit under the radar and all too serious.