Saturday, December 16, 2017

Stanley Cup-winning goalkeeper Khabibulin first laced his skates in the Sverdlovsk region

Nikolai Ivanovich Khabibulin, the current goaltender for the NHL's Edmonton Oilers, was born January 13, 1973, in what is now considered Russia's Sverdlovsk region.

Khabibulin's NHL career began when he was selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the ninth round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. Shortly after being drafted, Khabibulin left to tour with the Russian Penguins during the 1993-1994 season. Khabibulin returned to the NHL in 1995 to play his first game with the Jets, and later followed the team to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1996 when it became the Phoenix Coyotes. Khabibulin played in more than 200 games during his first five seasons with the Jets/Coyotes.

Following an insurmountable contract dispute with the Coyotes for the 1999-2000 season, Khabibulin briefly left the NHL to join the International Hockey League's Long Beach Ice Dogs, where he earned the league's MVP trophy, Wikipedia reports.

In 2001, Khabibulin returned to the NHL and was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he played until the NHL lockout during 2004-2005 season.

Khabibulin was instrumental in the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup victory, the first Stanley Cup in the franchise's history. During the lockout, Khabibulin returned to Russia to play for Ak Bars Kazan.

Following the resolution of the NHL PLayers Association collective bargaining agreement that effectively ended the lockout, Khabibulin was given a four-year, $27 million contract to play for the Chicago Blackhawks. In signing with the Blackhawks in 2005, Khabibulin became the highest-paid NHL goalie in the league's history to-date. Despite numerous injuries and the Blackhawks' signing of former Washington Capitals goalie Cristobal Huet, Khabibulin finished the 2008-2009 season before leaving the Chicago franchise.

Khabibulin signed a four-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers worth $15 million in January 2009. In 2010, he underwent back surgery to repair a herniated disk and subsequently missed a portion of the NHL's 2010 regular season.