Nikolai Khabibulin has missed nearly two months with a groin injury. But it’s another ailment, and the surgery on it, which will sideline him for longer.
Khabibulin underwent successful surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, the Chicago Blackhawks announced today. Team physician Dr. Michael Terry, who performed the procedure at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said in a statement that Khabibulin “should be able to return to hockey in four to five months.”
It was a surprise announcement; Khabibulin’s lower-body injury, which he sustained against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 16, was known for quite some time. General manager Stan Bowman said Khabibulin was nursing this shoulder injury since then, too.
“He did hurt his groin that game but shoulder was bothering him since November,” Bowman said. “We did some imaging at the time, and it was one of those things where you try to rehab it to avoid surgery. With him being out with the groin could work on it the last six weeks or so. It just never got better to the point where it wasn’t going to heal without surgery.”
Khabibulin, who signed a one-year deal with the Blackhawks last summer, struggled in his few games this season. His injury paved the way for Antti Raanta, who the Blackhawks called up prior to their circus trip. Raanta ran with the opportunity and is currently 11-1-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average (.911 save percentage) for the Blackhawks.
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Bowman said Raanta’s quick adaption has been a pleasant surprise.
“You’ve seen how he’s played here; he’s played great for us,” Bowman said. “We signed him last summer hoping he’d do that but you never know until they come to North America and adjust to the different sized rink. But it hasn’t taken him very long. He looks comfortable and certainly the guys play well in front of him.”