After the Detroit Red Wings signed Evgeni Nabokov, he was claimed off waivers by the New York Islanders on Saturday thanks to a ridiculous provision in the NHL rule book.
Nabokov, who had been the stopper for the two-time Western Conference defending champion San Jose Sharks, said an impolite no thank you to the Islanders, and apparently only wanted to return to the NHL in the cushy situation of Detroit.
It may seem a little selfish that a goalie wants to play for who he wants, when he wants, or else not play at all, but put yourself in Nabokov’s shoes and ask yourself this: would you want to join the Islanders?
Nabokov signed up to play for the fourth-best team in hockey, and one of the most consistently dominant in NHL history. Instead, because of the waiver claim, Nabokov was asked to play for the third-worst team in hockey that has been an embarrassment to the league all year.
This year the Islanders are 30th in the NHL attendance, endured a stretch of lost 20 losses in 21 games, banned a respected blogger from their arena, and have college students running their radio broadcasts. Even their own play-by-play man desperately wants the season to end.
Nabokov is used to playing for a Stanley Cup contender, and returned to North America with plans to do it again. Instead, the contract he signed was disregarded. He made a reservation to eat at the league’s premier steakhouse, and instead, was served a hamburger from Sonic.
Maybe Nabokov could have handled the situation a little better, but it’s hard to find fault in his reasoning for turning down the Islanders.
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