Evgeni Nabokov Suspended By New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have suspended Evgeni Nabokov for his refusal to report the team after he was claimed off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings. The 35-year-old goaltender signed a free-agent contract with the Red Wings Jan. 20, but had to pass through waivers first.

Pro Hockey Talk has a pretty good synopsis of the situation:

Now the drama gets interesting because either Nabokov can report and unhappily play for the Islanders and play out this season and walk away from the team as an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. If Nabokov chooses to stay home, however, the Islanders hold all the cards to his future. The team can then “toll” his contract until next season meaning that Nabokov will be Islanders property for the 2011-2012 season with the same $575,000 contract he initially signed with Detroit.

The situation is ugly either way as the Islanders could get an unmotivated and unhappy goalie to play for them this season making things in the locker room sketchy to say the least. Nabokov, meanwhile, could end up being stuck with a team that he doesn’t want to play for next season thus submarining his efforts to sign a more lucrative deal during the summer.

The clear best answer here is to have Nabokov report to the Islanders and just play out the string so to speak and hope that somehow the Isles might want to find a way to get him somewhere he’d rather be. Then again, Nabokov had to be aware of the possibility he might not end up with Detroit when he signed and that his ultimate wish to be a Red Wing might not come true. If Nabokov is fine with that and doesn’t mind being a hold out then he’s certainly not going to get other teams excited about trying to acquire him for next season.

Things are never dull in Long Island it seems and this latest go-round with Nabokov and Isles GM Garth Snow (including both sides playing a bizarre game of phone tag) is a prime example of that. All the Isles want is for Nabokov is to come in and play for them while Nabokov wants nothing more than to never play for the Islanders. You’d hope there’s an easier way to go about this, but with the NHL’s CBA there isn’t. Instead of phone tag, they’re playing a game of chicken to see who moves first. If nothing else, the Islanders just pressed down the accelerator.

Nabokov began this season with SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). He previously spent nine seasons in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks.

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