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Martin Gerber's return from the KHL sees battle with goalies rather than henchmen

Sep 20, 2010, 8:25 PM EDT

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martingerber2.jpgWhen a player takes off the KHL from the NHL, they usually go away to never be heard from again aside from the occasional “What ever happened to…?” profile pieces. In an effort to prove that you can go home again, so to speak, former Hurricanes/Leafs/Senators goalie Martin Gerber is back trying to win a spot with the goalie-overloaded Edmonton Oilers. For Gerber, it’s a move he was more than happy to make after a year in Russia.

Take away the shady-looking guys in black leather jackets and Martin Gerber rather enjoyed most of his KHL experience.

Not so much that he was willing to play there forever, but it was fun while it lasted.

“There’s some really good stuff and there’s also some bad stuff,” said Gerber. “You have to be kind of open and don’t ask too many things. Language is a huge challenge over there. Things can get really, really complicated. It’s a different lifestyle, that’s for sure.”

And the famous Russian henchmen?

“Lot’s of those,” he said. “I think it looks scarier than it is sometimes, but sometimes you also think to yourself, ‘Holy crap, what did I get into here?'”

Russian henchmen? I hope this is only a really poor reference to former Coyotes enforcer Andrei Nazarov. As for Gerber, a year away in the KHL may have been just the thing he needed to recharge his batteries for a shot at the NHL once again. Playing for Mytishchi Atlant last year, Gerber put up stellar numbers with a goals against average of 2.19 and a .914 save percentage. If Gerber did find his game again, he might be making life very hard on Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk in Edmonton.

Gerber is at one disadvantage compared to those two and Nikolai Khabibulin: he’s signed to a two-way contract making it easier to send him to the AHL and Oklahoma City. This just means that Gerber will have to play out of his mind to get head coach Tom Renney and GM Steve Tambellini to keep him in Edmonton and force their hand in sending either Deslauriers or Dubnyk (or both of them) down through waivers to get them to the AHL.

It’s a long shot, but Gerber’s got a better NHL pedigree than either Dubnyk or Deslaruiers and if Khabibulin’s back isn’t in good shape or if the courts in Arizona make him go to jail for 30 days sooner rather than later, taking a shot at signing Gerber might be the sort of gamble that pays off.

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