(courtesy of The Hockey News)
Nikolai Ivanovich Khabibulin has become the first Russian to sign a new contract for the 2009 off-season. The Sverdlovsk native will not be returning to Chicago where he has spent the last 4 years of his career opting to sign with the Edmonton Oilers instead.
Khabibulin signed a 4-year deal worth $15 million and will get $3.5 per season. Bulin is one win shy of 300 for his career and at 36, will bring experience to Edmonton who lost goalie Dwayne Roloson,39,to the Islanders just hours before.
This will be his fifth team after backstopping Winnipeg, Phoenix, Tampa Bay(where he won a cup) and of course Chicago respectively. Oilers fans will be happy to him between the pipes against the much hated Calgary Flames in the Battle of Alberta who he and the hawks disposed of in playoffs in April.
In the 40 games he started last year, Bulin went 25-8-7 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. He should have no problem adjusting to the harsh winters Edmonton has to offer as it not too cold from his native city of Sverdlovsk now Yekaterinburg.
courtesy of HHOF-IIHF Images)
With a 2-1 win over their arch rivals Canada on Sunday, the Russian national team won their second straight gold medal on the world championship stage. Goals from Oleg Saprykin and Alexander Radulov was all Russia needed as they relied heavily on goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. The Phoneix Coyote would make 37 saves often diving left and right to deny Canada an equalizer.
Jason Spezza would open the scoring for Canada with a practically empty net to shoot at as Bryzgalov was not expecting a redirect. It was the eighth time in nine games that Canada opened the scoring.
Seven minutes later Russia would go on the man advantage where Saprykin would tip in the equalizer past Dwayne Roloson. Both teams would go into the intermission tied at 1. In the second the referees missed a clear high stick on Dany Heatley who hit his former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk in the mouth. Kovalchuk would lose a tooth on the play.
Radulov would get on the board minutes later as he played a 2-on-1 towards Roloson. The NHLer-turned-KHLer would outlast defensemen Chris Phillips while cutting across the top of the slot and would beat Roloson at 14:30.
Russia would hold off the onslaught in the final frame as both teams missed opportunities to make or break their fortunes. As the final horn sounded Bryzgalov was mobbed by his teammates as they celebrated their second straight gold medal against Canada.
Bryzgalov would get the player of the game award and Kovalchuk would be named tournament MVP. The win gave Russia possession of first place in the IIHF world standings for the first time since 2004.
Below is the team joyfully singing the national anthem which would give any Russian citizen chills as the exuberant faces are linked shoulder to shoulder unified by their flag.