Wednesday, January 26, 2011

For Nabokov, all NHL roads lead through Nassau County

If Evgeni Nabokov wants to resume an NHL career, he had best load up on the Billy Joel on his iPod.

Joel, the iconic New Yorker has composed more than a few ditties about life on Long Island and environs over the years, championing life on the Island and its more fast paced New York communities, and if Nabokov has any future in the NHL it would appear that he had best come to terms with his New York State of Mind.

While he thought that perhaps a Stanley Cup run with the Red Wings was going to be his Spring vocation, the Islanders put a crimp in that plan when they plucked him off the waiver wire on January 22nd.

Much is being made as to what the Islanders think they are doing with the move, but the opportunity to take a player off the wire is their right as the NHL procedures dictate at the moment, so the sour grapes of the Nabokov camp and others seems a bit much.

As Nabokov has not reported for duty with the Islanders since he was picked up, he has been placed in the suspended category pending further developments.

His arrival from exile in the KHL was destined to once again stir up the debate over the mid season airlift, a larger issue for the NHL than the waiver controversy.

In what is becoming part of a more frequent strategy of GM's, the idea of waiting for hold outs, semi retired players and exiles to return to the NHL after the all star break is something that needs to be addressed.

There have been suggestions that a hard date earlier on in the season needs to be fixed for players to declare their intentions, the idea that they can rest up for the first half of the year and then return or join a line up would seem to make the first 40 or so games of the regular season even more meaningless than we already suspect they are.

The Nabokov situation seems to bring that point even more into focus, though perhaps not as he might have anticipated.

Since it's the Islanders picking him up, the idea that they're padding their roster for a playoff run seems unlikely.  True they could use his services considering their rather tenuous goaltending situation at the moment but a more plausible is the idea that Garth Snow is going to use the goaltender as a chip for player acquisitions and or trade positions.

And while the Islanders in the past haven't exactly made the best of their opportunities and made more than a few questionable contract offers, this time, much to the distress of the Red Wings and the NHL for that matter they may have got it right.

Making use of the rules as they are to hopefully make better their team is smart, what they do with that position in the next little while could improve their fortunes for the seasons to come.

National Post-- Islanders suspend Nabokov as comical saga drags on
CBC-- The Nabokov mess and 30 thoughts
Winnipeg Free Press-- Nabokov, Islanders squabble like teenagers
New York Daily News-- Islanders owner Charles Wang reveals, GM Garth Snow confirms Evgeni Nabokov hung up on Snow
Toronto Sun-- Islanders GM not sure what all the fuss is about
MSNBC-- Evgeni Nabokov’s agent says he won’t report to New York Islanders
TSN-- What happens next on Long Island

While he may never actually don an Islander uniform, Nabokov might want to get more familiar with that Long Island culture, here to help him out, Mr. Joel, with a useful recommendation for the moment.

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