Reports: Work release for Khabibulin

Updated: July 29, 2011, 4:56 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

Edmonton Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin will not serve prison time stemming from his drunken-driving conviction, the Edmonton Journal and other media outlets reported this week.

After Khabibulin was charged with speeding with a blood-alcohol level at more than twice the legal limit in February 2010, it was believed the goaltender would not be given preferential treatment when he dropped his appeal of the conviction and scheduled to begin his 30-day sentence Saturday.

That was the belief of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, until a local judge told him otherwise this week.

According to reports, a judge has moved Khabibulin into a work-release program that will allow the goaltender to leave the facility from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

Prison officials told The Journal that as long as he follows the rules and doesn't exhibit signs of having been drinking, Khabibulin will be allowed to spend his daytime hours as he pleases.

The decision also means he will not have to wear the signature pink underwear that inmates of the county's famous Tent City jail wear. Arpaio has been quoted as saying the pink underwear have a calming effect on inmates, although critics say it's more about humiliation.

Khabibulin will spend the first 48 hours of his sentence in jail, beginning Saturday; he will be under house arrest for the final 15 days of the sentence, barring breach of prison rules.

A source told ESPN.com this week the NHL has not decided whether to impose its own penalty on Khabibulin.

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

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