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.