Khabibulin will miss rest of season with shoulder injury
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter January 7, 2014 8:38PM
Updated: January 7, 2014 9:33PM
A groin injury kept Blackhawks backup goalie Nikolai Khabibulin off the ice for the last seven weeks. But it’s a shoulder injury that likely will keep him out for the rest of the season.
Khabibulin had rotator-cuff surgery Tuesday. The timetable for his recovery is four to five months, which effectively ends his season and possibly his career. Khabibulin will turn 41 on Monday.
General manager Stan Bowman said the shoulder had been bothering Khabibulin since before he injured his groin in a game Nov. 16 against the Nashville Predators. The groin injury allowed Khabibulin time to try to rehab the shoulder, but it eventually became clear that surgery was the only option.
‘‘It just never got better to the point where it was going to heal without surgery,’’ Bowman said.
Khabibulin’s job already was in jeopardy with the emergence of rookie Antti Raanta, who is 11-1-3 since being called up from Rockford. Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville are comfortable with Raanta backing up starter Corey Crawford the rest of the way.
‘‘He’s been great for us,’’ Bowman said of Raanta. ‘‘We signed him last summer hoping he would be able to do that, and you don’t really know until they come over to North America how they’re going to adjust to the different-sized rink. But it hasn’t taken him very long. He looks really comfortable, and certainly the guys play well in front of him. I think it’s been a nice combination so far.’’
‘‘Antti’s done an amazing job for us, and he took advantage of an opportunity here,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘He really helped solidify that position for us.’’
Khabibulin will stay on long-term injured reserve, so his $1.7 million contract won’t be factored into the Hawks’ salary-cap number.