Following the Blackhawks' signing of Nikolai Khabibulin last Friday, general manager Dale Tallon said he would do whatever he could to "make things right" for incumbent starter Jocelyn Thibault. Tallon accomplished that goal Wednesday, sending Thibault to Pittsburgh for a 4th round draft pick in 2006.
"Joce is a class act and a good goalie and he's done everything we've ever asked of him here in Chicago," Tallon told chicagoblackhawks.com. "It was a tough decision, strictly a business decision. Once we were able to acquire Nikolai Khabibulin, we couldn't afford the contract, so we did our best to try to get him to a situation where he would be happy."
Tallon spoke to Thibault immediately after the deal was made and said Thibault was pleased with his new situation.
"Going to Pittsburgh, we get a draft choice back and he'll get an opportunity to play with Mario [Lemieux] and [Sidney] Crosby, so he'll have a good opportunity to succeed."
The deadline to file for arbitration was today at 5 pm, which meant the Blackhawks had to pull the trigger on a deal or run the risk of losing Thibault without getting anything in return.
"It was [the Pittsburgh deal] or he becomes a free agent," Tallon explained. "It came down to the wire for both of us. He probably would have gone to arbitration and we probably would have ended up with nothing for him, so that's just the way it goes."
A veteran of 11 NHL seasons, Thibault has posted a record of 227-217-68 in 536 NHL games. He had hip surgery during the 2003-04 season and appeared in 14 games.
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