|Born|| January 13, 1973 |
Sverdlovsk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight||208 lb (94 kg; 14 st 12 lb)|
| NHL team|
| Chicago Blackhawks|
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ak Bars Kazan
|National team|| Template:Country data Russia &|
|NHL Draft|| 204th overall, 1992|
Nikolai Khabibulin (born Nikolai Ivanovich Khabibulin on January 13, 1973) is a Russian professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL).
Nikolai is known by his nickname "The Bulin Wall." He has previously played for the Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Edmonton Oilers.
Nikolai has excelled at the international level winning two Olympic medals (gold and bronze) and was named Best Goaltender at the 2002 Winter Olympics. He was the first Russian goalie ever to win the Stanley Cup, doing so with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. He is also a 4-time NHL All-Star.
Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes (1994–99)Edit
Nikolai was selected in the ninth round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets. In the 1993–94 season, he played with the touring Russian Penguins and by the start of the NHL season in January of 1995 was playing in the NHL.
In 1996, Nikolai moved with the Jets to Phoenix, Arizona where they became the Coyotes. In his five seasons with the Jets/Coyotes franchise, Nikolai played in 60 games three times (including two instances playing 70 games), a heavy workload for a goaltender.
Although the team made the playoffs each of these years, some claimed that their first-round exits were partly due to Nikolai being fatigued from playing so many games.
After the 1998–99 season, Nikolai became embroiled in a bitter contract dispute with the Coyotes, and ended up holding out for an entire season.
During this year, Nikolai played for the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the International Hockey League (IHL), earning the league's MVP trophy.
Tampa Bay Lightning (2000–04)Edit
On March 5, 2001, Nikolai was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Mike Johnson, Paul Mara, Ruslan Zainullin and the New York Islanders' second round choice (previously acquired Phoenix selected Matthew Spiller). He quickly signed a contract with Tampa Bay and by the next season, re-emerged as a premier goaltender.
At the 2002 NHL All-Star Game, Nikolai flawless, 20 save, third period allowed the World All-Stars to rally for a come-back 8-5 win. Though Eric Daze of Chicago was chosen as the All-Star MVP, Nikolai's play was the talk of both locker rooms. Indeed, many players were surprised that he wasn't named MVP, an honor they felt was deserved and obvious.
Apparently voting was conducted with about 5 minutes remaining in the game while the North American All-Stars still held the lead. Joined by budding superstars Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards, Nikolai helped lead the Lightning back to the playoffs in 2003 (their first appearance since 1996) and then to a Stanley Cup in 2004, the first in franchise history.
Nikolai recorded five shutouts in 23 playoff games, including three shutouts in the first-round match-up against the New York Islanders (tied for an NHL record for most shutouts in a playoff round).
Unlike his time in Phoenix, Nikolai could enjoy extended rest when needed due to the skill of his backup goaltender John Grahame.
During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Nikolai was one of many Russian players to return to their homeland. From November of 2004, he played for Ak Bars Kazan in Kazan.
Chicago Blackhawks (2005–09)Edit
As the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) ratified a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), Nikolai became a free agent when play was set to resume.
Coming off his Stanley Cup win the previous NHL season, the Chicago Blackhawks signed Nikolai to a four-year, $27 million deal, making him the highest paid goalie in the league, but injuries and inconsistent play plagued him during his tenure in Chicago.
In his first season with the Blackhawks, Nikolai recorded a 3.35 goals against average (GAA), the highest of his career since his rookie season in Winnipeg and Chicago finished second to last in the Western Conference.
In July of 2008, the Blackhawks signed goaltender Cristobal Huet (previously of the Washington Capitals). The signing of Huet was thought to have effectively displaced Nikolai as the starting goalie, especially given he was put on waivers on September 29, 2008, but was cleared.
In light of Huet and Nikolai's combined salaries (Huet was signed to a contract averaging $5.6 million per season), it was speculated that Nikolai would be traded to provide cap space.
However, Nikolai spent the entire season with the team, playing in 42 games, and by the start of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he had retrenched himself as starting goaltender. He and the Blackhawks defeated the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks to progress to the Western Conference Finals against the Detroit Red Wings.
During the third game of the series, Nikolai surrendered three goals in one period, after shutting out the Red Wings in the previous period.
Nikolai was replaced by Huet for the third period due to a lower body injury. He missed the remaining three games of the series because of the injury.
Edmonton Oilers (2009–13)Edit
On July 1, 2009, Nikolai signed a four-year deal worth $15 million with the Edmonton Oilers, replacing Dwayne Roloson as the Oilers' starting goaltender. His Oilers debut on October 3, 2009 against the Calgary Flames was a blunder, however. While trying to field a clearing pass in the final minute of the third period, he mishandled the puck and gave up the game-winning goal to Flames' right wing David Moss.
On January 13, 2010, it was announced that Nikolai would have surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back. He missed the remainder of the regular season. He kicked off the 2010–11 NHL season with a 37 save performance in a 4–0 victory over the Calgary Flames.
However, injuries once again limited his action. He recorded a very poor record of 10–32–3, as the Oilers were once again last place in the Western Conference.
Due to Nikolai's strong play in October of the 2011-2012 season, with a 5-0-2 record, with a league leading .960 save percentage, and a 1.12 GAA, he was named the third star of the month.
However, Nikolai's play fell off in the second half of the season and he ended the season with an average 2.65 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
In the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season, his former backup Devan Dubnyk replaced Nikolai as the starting goaltender of the Edmonton Oilers. This was Khabibulin's first season as a backup.
Return to Chicago Blackhawks (2013–present)Edit
On July 5, 2013, Nikolai signed a one-year, $2 million contract to play for the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2013–14 season.
It was his second stint with the Blackhawks after previously playing for them from 2005 to 2009. He serves as the backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.
On November 16, 2013, Nikolai suffered an injury in a loss to the Nashville Predators and was placed on injured reserve the next day. As a result, goaltender Antti Raanta was recalled from the Blackhawks' American Hockey league affiliate, the Rockford Icehogs.
Regular Season StatisticsEdit
|1999–00||Long Beach Ice Dogs||IHL||33||21||11||1||1936||59||5||1.83||.930|
|2000–01||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||2||1||1||0||123||6||0||2.93||.913|
|2001–02||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||70||24||32||10||3896||153||7||2.36||.920|
|2002–03||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||65||30||22||11||3787||156||4||2.47||.911|
|2003–04||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||55||28||19||7||3274||127||3||2.33||.910|
|2004–05||Ak Bars Kazan||RSL||24||16||5||3||1457||40||5||1.65||—|
|1999–00||Long Beach Ice Dogs||IHL||5||2||3||321||15||0||2.80||—|
|2002–03||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||10||5||5||644||26||0||2.42||.913|
|2003–04||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||23||16||7||1401||40||5||1.71||.933|
|2004–05||Ak Bars Kazan||RSL||2||0||2||118||6||0||3.05||—|
|Year||Team||Event||Place||GP||W||L||T / OT||MIN||GA||SO||GAA||SV%|
Awards & AchievementsEdit
- Played in the NHL All-Star Game - 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003
- 2004 NHL Stanley Cup Champion – Tampa Bay Lightning
- NHL 1997 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Save percentage Leader (.932)
- NHL 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Wins Leader (16)
- NHL 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Shutouts Leader (5)
- Tied NHL record for most Shutouts in a Playoff Round - (3)
- NHL 2011–12 season - Lowest GAA through the first 9 games of a season since the NHL expansion (1967-68 season) (0.98)
- 1992 Winter Olympics (Ice Hockey) – Gold Medal
- 2002 Winter Olympics (Ice Hockey) – Bronze Medal
- 2002 Winter Olympics (Ice Hockey) – Best Goaltender Award (Directorate)
- Won the James Gatschene Memorial Trophy (IHL) MVP) in 2000.
|Men's ice hockey|
|Competitor for Template:Country data RUS & Template:Country data CIS|
|Bronze||2002 Salt Lake City|
|World Junior Championships|
Nikolai made his international debut with the Soviet Union at the 1991 European Junior Championships. He appeared in the 1992 World Junior Championships the next year and won a gold medal with the CIS, appearing in six games.
He and the national team had begun the tournament as the Soviet Union, but the state was dissolved following the round robin on New Year's Day, thus they proceeded to compete as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
That same year, Khabibulin appeared in the 1992 Winter Olympics with the CIS as the third goaltender.
Nikolai remains the last active player from Russia to win the Olympic Games. Controversy arose after the CIS captured the gold medal when legendary Russian coach Viktor Tikhonov kept a medal for himself (coaches and management are not awarded medals in Olympic hockey) instead of allowing Nikolai to have one, as Khabibulin had not played a game in the tournament. This is speculated to be the reason for Khabibulin boycotting the Russian team in later international tournaments.
At the 2002 Winter Olympics, in which the 1992 gold medal conflict was resolved, Nikolai established himself as the national team's starting goaltender. He helped Russia to a bronze medal while appearing in all six games and named Best Goaltender of the tournament.
Ten years later, at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Nikolai was finally awarded his 1992 Olympic gold medal in a private locker room ceremony with teammates and the Russian Hockey Federation.
After his second season with the Winnipeg Jets of the NHL, Nikolai competed with Russia in the 1996 World Cup. He appeared in two games.
Nikolai was called up again in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, but he missed them due to injury. Russia's starting goalie was the San Jose Sharks' Evgeni Nabokov. He did not play a game in either tournament in which Russia failed to win a medal.
On February 8, 2010, Nikolai was pulled over in Arizona by a police officer for surpassing the legal speed limit by 25 miles per hour. The officer noted various signs that suggested he could have been under the influence of alcohol, and proceeded to administer a field sobriety test. He was subsequently arrested and charged with speeding and impaired driving.
On July 7, 2010, Nikolai's court case was postponed. On August 27, 2010, he was found guilty of excessive speed, extreme DUI and DUI over the 0.08 level. On August 31, 2010, he received the minimum sentence of 30 days in jail which he then tried to appeal.
On July 26, 2011, Nikolai withdrew the appeal and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. He was in a jail for half of the time, and under house arrest for the other half.
Nikolai helped out Victoria Azarenka settle in Scottsdale when she moved from Belarus to pursue a career in tennis. His wife is friends with Azarenka's mother and decided to help her. They have become close friends since.