July 3, 2009
Someone loves Edmonton!
Nikolai Khabibulin had few reservations about coming to play in Edmonton, unlike someone else the Oilers happen to be pursuing.
The veteran goaltender jumped all over a four-year deal presented by the hockey club on Wednesday, just a few hours into the start of free agency.
"I never had problems with coming to Edmonton, I think it's a great hockey city," he said. "They've had something like 120 consecutive sellouts. So when you play, you want to play in a full building. I remember when I would come here with Chicago or Phoenix, it was always a full building, it was always loud and always exciting.
"I remember from my days in Winnipeg, playing in a city where everything is hockey -- the fans are really passionate and it's always very exciting. I think it's going to be a lot of fun."
Despite backstopping the Chicago Blackhawks to the Western Conference final, outplaying Miikka Kiprusoff and Roberto Luongo along the way, Khabibulin was not offered a long-term deal to stay in the Windy City.
The Oilers, meanwhile, were in the market for a starting goaltender after Dwayne Roloson accepted a two-year offer from the New York Islanders.
"We had some discussions in Chicago, we had a couple of one-year offers," Khabibulin said. "But when the one came from the Oilers, it was a pretty easy decision to make, especially going to a Canadian city, it's something that's very exciting. I was fortunate that the team that committed to me long-term was also a pretty good team."