So this topic has been pretty hot around the media lately. Jim Matheson has discussed it. Robin Brownlee has discussed it. David Staples has covered the story. John McKinnon did a couple write ups on the story. The Sun has done their share of stories on it. Various polls have been taken of fans on a few websites including OilersNation and HFBoards. The topic of course being, should the Oilers void Khabibulin’s contract?
The motivation here is simple. Take a horrible situation of Khabibulin speeding his Ferrari while 2x over the legal blood-alcohol limit and use it as reasoning to end Khabibulin’s brutal (I think most of us are in agreement of this) contract. Now, first off, I will say that I trust that there are several of you out there that are motivated to do this due to a personal hatred towards drunk drivers, perhaps due to a personal experience (losing a loved one, for example), and I can fully understand why you feel this way. And I’m not going to spew some bullshit like “it’s not like he killed someone!”. But my question after thinking about this, is why would we not turn this situation into more of a positive? If Khabibulin is struggling with alcohol issues (to me, a DUI is a sign of that), why not get him treatment he needs? Why would we not see where he goes with this, and ensure that he does the time within the community to speak about the dangers of drunk driving?
So far the poll results on websites have actually been kind of interesting (and I am proud that more Oil fans haven’t taken the “easy way out”). On HFBoards so far the votes are fairly even when it comes to whether the Oilers should take this opportunity to rip up Khabi’s contract. On OilersNation, 45% have said the Oilers should, while 33% say they shouldn’t, and 20% say that it depends on Khabibulin handles things. That leads me to believe that there is a pretty even mix of those that think he should be forgiven, with likely implication that the Oilers work with him to help turn things around, as there are those that are tired of Khabibulin on this team. It is just my own speculation, but I would think that most of those that voted to tear up Khabibulin’s contract would like it to happen based more on reasons outside of the extreme DUI/speeding offenses.
So what are your thoughts? Me, I’ve been on the fence of this. I really have a tough time justifying keeping Khabibulin around. His contract is probably the worst on this team.. too much money for too long a time for too problematic of a goaltender. However, I can’t let that thought get in the way of what is the right thing to do (see rant above). I’ll grudgingly support Khabibulin through this and hope that he can turn things around. It’s the twilight of his career, so I hope there is still motivation on his part. But if he’s motivated to do it, so will I be. So really, the ball is in his court. To use the Oilers Nation poll answer, my decision on whether to void the contract or not “depends on how he deals with it here on out.” The Oilers can’t completely hold his hand here. He needs to be the one that wants to rehabilitate (if necessary), and he needs to be the one that wants to speak to the community about the issue (even if with a small amount of prodding from the league, the Oilers, or the court).
So here is the poll question. I encourage everyone to vote on it. I also encourage you to vote HONESTLY. If you want it torn up, pick why you want it torn up (if the answer you want isn’t there, let me know in comments ).
UPDATE: the trial started early as per #azsportsvibe on twitter (retweeted by Dan Tencer). Khabibulin has been sentenced to 30 days in jail with $507.60 base fine with surcharges, $500 DUI assessment and $500 DPS assessment, as well as alcohol treatment program. Court may suspend 20 of the 30 days if he completes counselling (which I presume means he’ll serve those in the off-season). So he might not even miss a lick of camp at all.