SUN Hockey Pool

Khabibulin speaks, but not about DUI charge

Nikolai Khabibulin spoke to the media Tuesday about his back injury, not the charge against him of...

Nikolai Khabibulin spoke to the media Tuesday about his back injury, not the charge against him of drunk driving. (PERRY MAH/Sun file)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

Nikolai Khabibulin finally came out of hiding Tuesday, two months after his back surgery and four weeks after an impaired driving charge in Scottsdale.

The Oilers goaltender met with the media for six minutes, but said he won't discuss his DUI arrest while it's still before the courts.

"I've been advised by legal counsel that until everything is resolved I can't talk about it, so ... sorry," said Khabibulin, who was pulled over for speeding in his black Ferrari on Super Bowl Sunday.

Police allege he was travelling at an estimated 96 km/h in a 72 km/h zone and he was subsequently charged with extreme DUI (a blood alcohol level over .15).

His back problem isn't resolved, either, but since there are no legal ramifications in addressing that subject, Khabibulin slipped the muzzle off.

"I'm disappointed, obviously, that I only played a quarter of the season," he said. "It's not fun to rehab most of the time. Hockey is what I love to do. With the team being in last place, it's never fun."

The 37-year-old is hoping for a full recovery from the herniated disc.

"Originally, before surgery, I talked to the guy, he's a very experienced doctor. He said that if I rehab correctly there shouldn't be any problems down the road. I'm pretty optimistic about it and trying to do everything I'm told to do.

"I've been checked a couple of times already and flew to L.A. to see the doctor who did the surgery and he was pretty happy with the progress.

"The team doctor here checks me out every three or four days and said that he's pretty happy, so I'm very optimistic about it."

Khabibulin said the injury came on suddenly, between a morning skate and the Nov. 21 game against Chicago.

"The night before, I felt great. I was pretty excited about the game here and in the morning I was just walking to the rink from the car and I just started feeling kind of funny.

"I went out and skated and it started progressing a little bit and the next day it got worse and never got better," he said.

"Prior to the injury I actually felt very good. If you asked me two days before how I felt, I'd say I felt perfect. Then all of a sudden it happens and that was it.

"Even after it happened, I didn't think it would be too big a deal.

"I knew it would take a little bit of time, but I didn't think it would take two months and then I would go for surgery."

Khabibulin said he isn't concerned that this will become a recurring problem, like the back injury to teammate J.F. Jacques, which required two surgeries in two years.

""I can stand and walk for as long as I want. I don't have to sit down every five minutes. So I'm happy now," he said.


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