Khabibulin appealing sentence

Edmonton Oilers netminder Nikolai Khabibulin has been handed a 30-day jail sentence for drunk...

Edmonton Oilers netminder Nikolai Khabibulin has been handed a 30-day jail sentence for drunk driving. (REUTERS FILE)

JEFF CUMMINGS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Edmonton Oilers netminder Nikolai Khabibulin will be facing a 30-day sentence in prison, but he's still able to play hockey with the team since his lawyer is appealing the conviction.

The veteran goalie is free to leave the United States since the sentence is stayed, said his lawyer Mark Dubiel to the CBC today.

And Oilers GM Steve Tambellini says the Russian NHL star is free to play hockey with the team while the process continues.

"He's made a mistake, but let me assure you, this organization is taking this very seriously," said Tambellini.

"I will withhold comments until this process is finished."

Khabibulin was convicted in a Scottsdale, Ariz., courtroom Friday of "extreme" driving under the influence, excessive speed and driving under the influence with blood alcohol level over .08.

Police pulled over Khabibulin on Feb. 8 after he was clocked at 70 mph while driving in Scottsdale, shortly before 12:40 a.m.

Police in Arizona say his blood alcohol was .164, more than the legal limit.

Under the sentence handed down by the judge, Khabibulin must also enter an alcohol screening and treatment program, as well as pay fines over $5,000.

"Khabibulin is a big part of our organization and I don't know what that's going to mean for (their future)," said die-hard Oilers fan Ron Carlin, a manager of Jox Sports Bar & Grill at 15327 97 St.

"Thirty days in jail - that's a tough thing for anybody to go through, especially for an NHL hockey player."

The Edmonton Chapter for MADD Canada says the goalie's indiscretion has brought the issue back into the local spotlight.

Gillian Phillips, a spokeswoman with MADD Canada, says Oiler fans are talking about the issue and the dangers of impaired driving.

"This raises the awareness -- (drunk driving) happens every day," said Phillips.

The Oilers inked Khabibulin to a four-year contract worth $15 million in July 2009 - a cap hit of roughly $3.75 million until the end of the 2013-14 season.

He was sidelined last November because of back problems. He was later diagnosed with a herniated disk -- a problem that required surgery in January.


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