• This week in Khabibulin

    by Tyler Dellow • July 29, 2010 • Uncategorized • 33 Comments

    Some interesting news on the Khabibulin front today, as it came out that he’s taking a trial by judge alone at the end of August instead of a jury trial that was tentatively scheduled for late September. His lawyer had previously indicated a preference for a jury trial but indicated that he would have to speak to the Oilers first.

    A couple of things. It’s much easier to schedule trials with judge alone – juries slow everything down, so I’d bet the trial goes. I’m more interested in divining the Oilers’ position in all of this. I think we can safely assume that they told Khabibulin one of two things: either “We’re not going to cut you, just get the trial done with and serve your thirty days before the season” or “We offer you no advice in that regard and we reserve our rights fully.” I think that they can terminate his contract if he doesn’t show up at training camp because he’s in jail; that’s my reading of the Standard Player’s Contract anyway. Similarly, if he had an unexcused absence from training camp or an exhibition game for his trial, they might be able to cut him.

    By going this route, Khabibulin preserves the possibility of missing no time because of his trial, the only situation in which he isn’t in jeopardy. If he ends up getting convicted, it’s going to be fascinating to see how the Oilers respond. Maybe, if they do cut him, Don Iveson can amend his list of questions to ask if the City’s financial contribution can be cut by $12MM to represent the savings on the Khabibulin deal.

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    33 Responses to This week in Khabibulin

    1. Deano
      July 29, 2010 at

      What process would Khabby have to go through after getting out of jail, to be allowed to travel into Canada?

    2. July 29, 2010 at
    3. dawgbone
      July 29, 2010 at

      They aren’t going to cut him. He was the team MVP last year remember?

      Even if he isn’t allowed in Canada, the Oilers play what? 30 games in the US? He can just travel to those.

      As much as it would make sense to try and severe ties with Khabibulin, management thinks he’s worth it.

    4. July 29, 2010 at

      They aren’t going to cut him. He was the team MVP last year remember?

      Nik was the team MVP. Maybe league MVP.

      Even if he isn’t allowed in Canada, the Oilers play what? 30 games in the US? He can just travel to those.

      I’d love to hear the rationale behind that should it happen.

    5. bill needle
      July 29, 2010 at

      It’s amusing to read all the nefarious ways the Oilers could use to cut Khabibulin from the salary cap. It’s mostly Fantasy Island stuff, though – the Oilers probably want him to play 50-60 games this year. And if they try to use some sort of morals clause tactic, the case would be grieved so fast by the players’ union and would further alienate future free agents from coming to Edmonton. Can anyone name an NHLer who’s lost his guaranteed contract because of such a situation? NHLers have killed people in car accidents and gone on to make millions and win Stanley Cups afterwards.
      If Khabibulin is found guilty, he’ll be punished and be back with Oilers, unless his back issues and poor play from last year – a far bigger worry for the Oilers- remain an issue.

    6. Tyler Dellow
      July 29, 2010 at

      Bill

      This isn’t morals clause termination, this is not showing up for work termination. The rules are different. I wasn’t wild about the morals clause argument and figure it’s unlikely it would have worked. Not showing up for camp or games though, that’s a lot cleaner.

      In order to find the right comparison, you need to find a guy who was scheduled to be grossly overpaid relative to the market for the foreseeable future who did something that made him unavailable to the team. I can’t think of an example of someone who did. Dany Heatley had a tremendous amount of value when he had his troubles. MacT did, in fact, have his contract terminated and was released, although that was apparently by mutual agreement to get him a fresh start somewhere away from Edmonton.

    7. rent a goalie
      July 29, 2010 at

      Mark Bell?

    8. Deano
      July 29, 2010 at

      The Oilers have 3 exhibition games and 29 regular season games in the US next season.

      Where would he practice? With the Barons?

    9. Bohologo
      July 29, 2010 at

      Dawgbone-epic fail!

      Seriously, depending on his U.S. immigration status, NK could be facing American-side-of-the-border issues as well. For example, if he has been coming to the States on a non-immigrant visa, he would become ineligible for said visa, assuming a guilty verdict. There are waivers for theses ineligibilities (more sticky if the nature of his crime is determined to be one of “moral turpitude”). If he has been holding a green card (pure conjecture on my part, but that’d be my guess), he may be in jeopardy of having his landed immigrant status revoked. Also time consuming to remediate. NK may also be a naturalized U.S. citizen, but unless he’s holding a Canadian passport from his time in Winnepeg, he’s likely to be facing visa constraints of some nature on at least one side of the border. Perhaps Tyler can suss out NK’s citizenship & visa status with NK’s agent in their next correspondence….

    10. Deano
      July 29, 2010 at

      Info in AZ DUI legal blogs says with certainty (but without actual proof) that Khabby is a Russian citizen. That would mean he’s playing in both Canada and the US on work visas.

      What is an appropriate sacrifice to the hockey gods to get this contract terminated?

    11. Bohologo
      July 29, 2010 at

      Deano-thanks for that; if I am not mistaken, the Russian Federation does not recognize dual citizenship, so this suggests NK either holds a U.S. green card and/or landed immigrant status in Canada. I don’t know much about Canadian visa law, but the American Immigration & Nationality Act explains what happens to both green card holders and work visa applicants (both immigrant and non-immigrant categories) in the event of derogatory information related to the applicant. Essentially, visa status and eligibility are attendant complications in the proceedings.

    12. Ravnos
      July 29, 2010 at

      the Russian Federation does not recognize dual citizenship

      I am fairly certain this is incorrect.

    13. Matt D
      July 29, 2010 at

      the Russian Federation does not recognize dual citizenship
      For what it’s worth, Andrei Markov just got Canadian citizenship, but I’m assuming that he’s still going to suit up for Russia in the next Olympics. So I imagine this is probably not quite true.

    14. Bohologo
      July 29, 2010 at

      Ravnos(Равнось?),
      You are correct, and I am mistaken.
      http://www.cis.org/articles/2001/paper20/renshonappendix.html

      If my questionable memory does not betray me again, ethnic Russians living in former Soviet republics, can hold dual passports, for example. Thanks for the catch!

      Regarding NK, then, if he is still holding a Russian passport, he may in fact also be holding a US and/or Canadian passport, if he has naturalized in either state. If he’s holding all three, no visa questions.

      But if he has to (re)-apply for a U.S. visa, I’m not sure if a felony judgement will be a significant burden for him in terms of visa ineligibility. It’s unlikely that a DUI would be considered a crime of moral turpitude (maybe in Utah), and neither would be an aggravated felony. I’m basing these outcomes on my reading of U.S. INA Act 212.

    15. Deano
      July 29, 2010 at

      Extreme DUI in AZ is a misdemeanor.

    16. Jon K
      July 29, 2010 at

      As another poster suggested above with the Mark Bell comment, Khabibulin will almost certainly be able to postpone serving his time until after the season. The argument is that such a minor sentence can still serve its purpose if postponed while not depriving the individual of their livelihood.

    17. July 29, 2010 at

      Not showing up for work is a reason for termination of an employee you don’t want in your company anymore. But with the money the Oilers have already invested in Khabibulin, they’ll do everything they can to get him back in the lineup this year, including clearing all the immigration red tape that’s mentioned here. And looking at the alternatives — Drubnyk and Draft-Deslottery — it’s in the Oilers’ best interest to get Khabibulin back in the lineup to see if he can still play.
      Also, since speculation is the order of the day, if Khabibulin’s convicted, then I imagine the NHL’s substance abuse policy may kick in, giving him further punishment but providing a chance at rehab and keeping his job.
      It might be fun to speculate what could happen if Oiler commentators/fans owned the team and punted Khabibulin, but it’s his back problems and age that will eventually end his Oiler career, not a DUI charge that has yet to be proven in a court of law.

    18. Tyler Dellow
      July 29, 2010 at

      They don’t have any money invested in him. That money’s a sunk cost.

    19. July 29, 2010 at

      Only last year was a sunk cost. If he returns from injury and his legal issues, Khabibulin can still win hockey games and/or be dealt for something the Oilers want more.
      I agree that his value isn’t close to his contract, but it wouldn’t surprise a lot of hockey watchers if he had another good year before he was done. Likewise, it wouldn’t surprise those same watchers if he was done like dinner.

    20. July 29, 2010 at

      MacT did, in fact, have his contract terminated and was released, although that was apparently by mutual agreement to get him a fresh start somewhere away from Edmonton.

      Well, that’s actually how he came to be in Edmonton, because he was cut from Boston, but point taken.

    21. Tyler Dellow
      July 29, 2010 at

      You think, with his contract the way it is and what’s happened in the goalie market, he could be dealt for more? I think his contract has negative value at the moment. I’m not always right about that – at least one team figured Moreau had positive value – but it would shock me if they’re able to move him.

      If you’re right that he has positive value than yeah, I agree – don’t terminate his pact, move him. I don’t buy the premise though.

    22. July 29, 2010 at

      I’m not always right about that – at least one team figured Moreau had positive value – but it would shock me if they’re able to move him.

      Does Columbus have $3.75 million worth of cap space left?

    23. kris
      July 29, 2010 at

      The Flames need a backup. Maybe Sutter will take him.

      I know, I know. Sutter’s already over the cap, but that don’t befront Darryl. As long as he gets his rent… wait, that’s a Thoroughgood song. Oh well: “One overpay, one Jokinen, and one goooon….”

    24. July 29, 2010 at

      OK, Tyler, I’ve read a year’s-plus posts on how you hate the Khabibulin contract – so do I, especially after the first game of last season when his gaffe pretty much set the tone for a season to forget. Let’s advance the conversation a bit.
      What do you do when you are able to terminate his contract? Do you go get one of the free agent goalies — I have no idea if any would risk life and limb behind the defence the Oilers will ice this season — or do you go with what the Oilers have and start playing for 30th on Thanksgiving Day?
      If it’s the latter, I’d rather try sell overpriced electric Chevys than Oilers tickets for 2010-11, Hall, Paajarvi, Eberle, or not.

    25. Tyler Dellow
      July 29, 2010 at

      Marty Turco and Jose Theodore are still out there. They could presumably be had for one year, cheap.

    26. speeds
      July 29, 2010 at

      Bill needle:

      I’m not sure how much reason there is to believe management is putting a particularly high emphasis on winning this season, so my guess is they would ride Deslauriers and Dubnyk and see what happens. The thinking being, if they play very well, great, if not, that’s great too provided they play bad enough to end up in the lottery again.

    27. speeds
      July 30, 2010 at

      Of course, that’s just a guess…

    28. dawgbone
      July 30, 2010 at

      I’d love to hear the rationale behind that should it happen.

      So would I.

      Actually, I probably wouldn’t. Sometimes it’s better to have questions than to get the answers.

    29. July 30, 2010 at

      Actually, I probably wouldn’t. Sometimes it’s better to have questions than to get the answers.

      I just picture Khabibulin waiting to meet the team at each U.S. Airport with bindle on his shoulder…

    30. NewAlgier
      July 31, 2010 at

      I don’t really think that NK suffers immigration problems crossing the border. Rules are different for professional athletes as well as others who can afford top-notch legal assistance.

      Do basketball players have trouble playing in Toronto?

      Just bury him in OK and take his cap hit off the team… a proud man will go back to Russia and solve the problem, if the Oilers management really wants that. But they don’t. We do.

    31. dawgbone
      August 2, 2010 at

      NewAlgier, the problem is he was signed over 35 so you can’t just bury his cap hit in OK so if he decides to stay, he’ll be paid $3.5 mil and be a $3.5 mil cap hit on the big club.

    32. August 5, 2010 at

      This isn’t morals clause termination, this is not showing up for work termination. The rules are different. … In order to find the right comparison, you need to find a guy who was scheduled to be grossly overpaid relative to the market for the foreseeable future who did something that made him unavailable to the team. I can’t think of an example of someone who did.

      Perhaps the relevant CBA search term is “suspension”? Would that route be possible with Khabibulin and how ugly would it get?

    33. Pingback: Khabibulin should go to jail, but not the unemployment line | Edmonton Journal

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