Evgeni Nabokov says Nyet to the New York Islanders

NHLHS New York Islanders Correspondent Christian Arnold discusses where the New York Islanders and Evgeni Nabokov stand after Nabokov failed to report to Long Island.

The life of a New York Islanders fan is never dull, there is always something new and irritating and this weekend was no different. On Saturday afternoon the Islanders claimed former Vezna trophy candidate Evgeni Nabokov off Waivers. Thus setting in motion one of the most bizarre controversies this season for the Islanders and their fan base.

Nabokov had his mind set on playing for the Detroit Red Wings, the team that signed him Thursday, and help them make a push deep into the playoffs. The only catch was that since he had spent the start of the season playing in the KHL Nabokov would have to go through waivers to be able to play in Detroit.

Just hours after news broke of the Nabokov claim reports started coming out that Nabokov would not report to the Islanders.  Newsday’s Katie Strang would later confirm those reports in the mid afternoon.

Nabokov’s agent Don Meehan only went as far to say on Saturday that Nabokov would not report to the Islanders.  While Islanders general manager Garth Snow was fully expecting Nabokov to report and had already arranged for transportation for him to get from Oakland, CA to Long Island.

As Saturday turned to Sunday many were still waiting to hear what the next move was by either party.  Snow and Islanders owner Charles Wang had both said they had contacted the former San Jose goalie. But Nabokov refuted that claim in an ESPN.com report released prior to the three o’clock Islanders/Sabres game.

“I want to clear something up,” Nabokov told ESPN.com. “Everybody wrote that Garth Snow left me messages. I have no messages on my phone from him. I didn’t talk to him. So I want to clear that up. He may have tried to reach me but there’s no message from him. I still haven’t talked to him.”

But this story gets stranger; Garth snow told Newsday’s Katie Strang that Nabokov actually hung up on him when he tried to contact him.

According to Strang’s report Nabokov’s agent called snow back to apologize and to explain that his client was “juggling” several lines and did not realize who he was talking to. “I just gave him the benefit of the doubt and I said to Donnie, ‘Do me a favor. When he gets done with all his phone calls, give him my number and get back to me,’ ” Snow told Katie Strang.

In any event Snow did not hear back from Nabokov. Charles Wang would then try to get in touch with the goaltender, he did not hear back from Nabokov either.

Snow and Nabokov would finally touched base during the first intermission of the Islanders 5-3 loss to the Sabres on Sunday and will talk again “later” according to the Newsday article.

“He had his heart set on going to Detroit, obviously,” Snow told Newsday. “I told him I respect that, but he’s a New York Islander now and we’d love to have him as part of our group.”

Snow and Wang have both maintained positive attitudes that in the end he will report to Long Island, reports would indicate otherwise. “I think I’m going to stay home for now, I’m sticking with my decision,” Nabokov told ESPN.com.

Never a dull moment in Islanders country as you can see. So for now everyone will have to wait and see who blinks first in this tale of unrequited want.

Christian Arnold
NHLHS New York Islanders Correspondent
Twitter: @isleshockeyblog