Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon understands that outsiders might be skeptical about his decision to tie up almost $12 million in goaltending next season after signing free agent Cristobal Huet Tuesday. He understands, and he doesn’t care.
“It makes us a better team,” Tallon said. “This goaltending tandem (Nikolai Khabibulin and Huet) is as good as there is. You can’t win without it. To be solid in goal and solid defensively was a top priority for us.”
Tallon has yet to talk with Khabibulin about today’s signing due to the whirlwind nature of the first day of free agency, but said he didn’t have to do much selling to Huet.
“We didn’t have to talk him into anything at all. I think he liked the situation here in Chicago and the direction the team is heading. He’s very high on Khabibulin and looks forward to working with him.
“We looked at where we are and what we needed to be successful and it starts at the back end. To have two quality goalies like this gives our young players the opportunity to make a few more mistakes and be more creative up top."
Khabibulin’s contract expires at the end of the coming season and Tallon wanted to solidify the goalie position with Corey Crawford, Finnish free agent signee Antti Niemi, 2005 draft pick Joe Fallon and other young goalies waiting in the wings.
“We have a lot of young goalies on our depth chart, but they aren’t quite ready yet,” Tallon said. “It’s nice to add someone who had a .934 save percentage at the end of last year and got a team to the playoffs. We needed to start sending a message to our young players and our fans that we want to win now.”
Tallon is feeling no pressure to trade Crawford, who is still in the club's plans and “has a bright future with the Chicago Blackhawks.”
Tallon hasn’t been shopping Khabibulin either.
“We haven’t talked to anybody about Nik. I like Nik. And I think the two of them together make a great tandem.”