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The Khabibulin Aftermath – Where Do We Go From Here?

And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the Khabibulin sentence is… the minimum jail sentence and the minimum fine.  Those minimums are 30 days and a $250 fine. I think that if Khabibulin completes counseling that the court can suspend 20 of those 30 days in jail but that isn’t a certainty.

If he does spends all 30 days in jail then at the very minimum he’s going to miss the starting of training camp on September 17 and four of the Oilers six preseason games. Assuming he goes to jail right away and doesn’t appeal or drag his feet on going to jail (that would be a public relations nightmare wouldn’t it) he would be released on September 30  so theoretically he could play in Oilers last two preseason games (October 1 and October 3) but travel issues could result in him missing one, or both, of those games as well. Even is Khabibulin available to play his conditioning might keep him from seeing any game action; remember he hasn’t played since November 16 of last season.

So what do the Oilers do now? Should they bail on Khabibulin or stand by their man? The benefits of cutting Khabibulin loose are obvious; $3.75 M worth of salary and cap space for each of the next three years for a player with a tremendous injury history would be off the books. But should the Oilers take the opportunity to void his contract and send him packing from Edmonton once and for all?

No they shouldn’t.

Without a doubt Khabibulin deserves exactly what’s coming to him. Drunk driving is a terrible thing to do and there is no excuse for it. Drunk driving kills people. It can’t be made any clearer than that. It has no place in our society and it should not be condoned. I think on that point everyone is in agreement. But that doesn’t exclude a second chance. Giving someone a second chance does not mean that you condone the action; it simply means that you’re willing to give that person the benefit of the doubt that it was a one time mistake and that you believe they’ve learned from it.

Khabibulin doesn’t have a history of alcohol related problems and he’s never done anything like this before so I think it’s fair that he be given a second chance. I’ve never made a mistake anywhere near as sever as what Khabibulin did but if I someday I did I would hope that those around me would be willing to offer me a second chance. I can’t hold Khabibulin to a different standard than I would apply to myself.

Khabibulin is going to serve time in jail as punishment for his crime. He will be required to complete counseling as well. Hopefully the Oilers ask him to do some community work as well. Perhaps he goes to some schools and talks to the kids about the dangers of drinking and driving. If the message gets through to even a couple of kids then at least something positive came out this whole fiasco. To add voiding the contract into the mix is simply over the top in my opinion. If he voids his probation or does anything like this again then all bets are off but I think he deserves a second chance.

I don’t like the Khabibulin contract. It’s the worse one contract of the Tambellini era and almost every day it looks worse than it did the day before. Strictly speaking I think the franchise would be better off if going forward it was voided. But Khabibulin’s mistake shouldn’t be a get out of jail free card for Tambellini. As much as Khabibulin has to accept the consequences for his actions, so too does Tambellini.

The bottom line is that if he had a deal we were all in love with (in Edmonton the closest thing might be Ales Hemsky’s contract) we wouldn’t be taking about voiding it based on a drunk driving conviction and missing a handful of preseason games. So if you wouldn’t void it under those circumstances then doing so in this case is wrong. Just because the team could doesn’t mean they should.

— Updated @ 4:36 —

Khabibulin is appealing his conviction. According to Sarah McLellan the paper work for the appeal had already been filed with the court. I know he has every right to appeal but I would have far rather seen him stand up and take responsibility for what he did than go this route.

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