Full name: Nikolai Ivanovich Khabibulin
Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Height: 6’1″/185 cm
Weight: 209 lbs/94 kg
Born: January 13, 1973 in Ekaterinburg, RUS
Drafted: Selected by Winnipeg Jets in 9th round (204th overall) of the 1992 Entry Draft
Strengths: Nikolai is an aggressive goalie, doing whatever it takes to cut down the shooter’s angles. He plays a butterfly style that forces snipers to shoot high, so that he can work his catching glove. Khabibulin plays best in games that matter the most.
Weaknesses: Nik sometimes has a problem controlling the puck outside of the net and can be prone to cold streaks. He has recently missed significant playing time due to injury.
Biography: Khabibulin grew up with Alexei Yashin in Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg). But who knew that both of them would excel in the National Hockey League? When Nikolai was 14 years of age, he read a book about his childhood idol – Vladislav Tretiak. That motivated him to become a goaltender. During his late teenage years, Nik became increasingly better and transferred from his hometown team to the Central Red Army team in Moscow. Nik played three seasons with CSKA, each year gaining experience. In his last year with CSKA, Khabibulin played in every single game. He was named top goaltender of the 1991 and 1992 World Junior Championships. In 1992, Nik was the third goaltender of the gold medal-winning Unified Team. Coach Viktor Tikhonov unrightfully kept the third goalie’s medal to himself. That is why Khabibulin boycotted the Olympics in 1998. After some minor league experience, Nik joined the Winnipeg Jets and became their starting goaltender. He had more success when the franchise moved to Phoenix. He showed his talent at the 1999 All-Star Game and got the nickname “The Bulin Wall.” Due to a contract dispute, Nik spent the 1999-00 season with the Long Beach Ice Dogs, winning the IHL’s MVP award. In 2001, Khabibulin made a comeback to the NHL, playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nikolai had a spectacular season with the struggling Lightning. He stole many games for the team, and in the 2002 All-Star Game he shut out the North American all-stars. At the 2002 Olympics, Khabibulin played some of his best hockey, including stoning the Czech team in the quarterfinals. Russia won bronze. In 2002-03, Nik started out well, had a poor mid-season, and was unbeaten in 16 games at the end of the season to propel his team to capture their first-ever division title. The next season he had an average regular season, but defied all critics by winning 16 games in the playoffs to win his (and the team’s) first ever Stanley Cup! He spent the NHL lockout season sharing goaltending duties with Fred Brathwaite for Ak Bars Kazan in the Superleague. Being a free agent, Khabibulin signed a multi-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks in the summer of 2005. After three unspectacular seasons, Khabibulin returned to top form in 2009 to help bring the youthful Blackhawks team as far as the Western Conference finals. In the summer of 2009, Khabibulin signed a four-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers. In 2010, he was arrested for speeding and driving under influence in Arizona and served two weeks of jail time in 2011. Due to injuries and surgery rehabilitation, he missed significant time during his tenure with the Oilers. Although he played for a losing team, Nik was a stable, veteran presence for the young Oilers team. In 2013, he returned to the Chicago Blackhawks.
|1990-91||Sputnik Nizhny Tagil (USSR-3)||10|
|1991-92||CSKA-2 Moscow (CIS-3)||11|
|1992-93||SKA-Metallurg Serov (CIS-2)||18|
|1993-94||Russian Penguins (IHL)||12||2||7||2||4.41||87.3||0|
|1999-00||Long Beach (IHL)||33||21||11||1||1.83||93.0||5|
|2004-05||Ak Bars Kazan||24||16||5||3||1.65||5|
|Totals||USSR/RHL Reg. Season||89|
|Totals||NHL Reg. Season||795||332||334||58||38||2.72||90.8||46|
National Team Stats: