Chicago Blackhawks: Nikolai Khabibulin Days Until Banner Raising

By Keith Schultz

We had so much fun doing our Countdown to Faceoff series last season that we decided to do it again.  In case you’re new to the series, we’ll do a roster preview as we count down the days until the Chicago Blackhawks raise their 6th Stanley Cup Banner on October 7th season opener against the New York Rangers.

Well of course we know that Nikolai Khabibulin wore #39 for most of his two stops with the Chicago Blackhawks, but for the sake of our jersey countdown to opening night we will go with the first number that he wore when he came to Chicago and that’s the number 53.

Khabibulin made his first stop which of course was his best stop with the Chicago Blackhawks when he signed as a free agent in the summer of 2005.  One summer earlier Khabibulin was coming off a Stanley Cup championship with the Tampa Bay Lightning so everyone in Chicago was hoping to get that type of caliber goalie for the Dale Tallon Blackhawks.

Khabibulin was not spectacular in the least bit his first couple of seasons, but in the 2008-2009 season when the team started winning games Khabibulin started playing some pretty good hockey in between the pipes. In the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs he went 8-6 and led the extemely young Chicago Blackhawks to the their first Western Conference Finals since 1995.  They lost a couple of heart breakers to the Detroit Red Wings before getting eliminated, and with all the huge contracts that Tallon had handed out there was no room for Khabibulin on the roster for the magical 2010 season.

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The Chicago Blackhawks did sign him once again as a free agent for the 2013-2014 season, but in four contests you could tell that his skill level wasn’t there anymore to be even a backup to

Corey Crawford

. This would be the last save Khabibulin would ever make in the NHL.  He would be out for a pulled groin that would end up turning into a rotator cuff injury and that would be it for him in a Chicago Blackhawks uniform.

Two other players have worn #53 in franchise history so let’s take a quick look back in time.

Sean Williams 1992



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Brett McLean– 2002-2003






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As you can see neither player lit up the scoresheet, but McLean did have one semi-productive season with the Blackhawks during their nightmare era in the early 2000’s!  47 days down only 53 days left to go in our countdown to opening night!

Next: 5 Most Improved Players

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