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Islanders suspend Nabokov for not reporting

Tuesday, 01.25.2011 / 4:23 PM / News

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Islanders suspend Nabokov for not reporting
The evolving saga between Evgeni Nabokov and the New York Islanders took another turn Monday as the team suspended him for not reporting.
The evolving saga between Evgeni Nabokov and the New York Islanders took another turn Monday as the team suspended him for not reporting.

The Islanders had claimed Nabokov on waivers Saturday, but the goaltender has remained at his home in California and has said he has no intention of joining the club.

The former San Jose Sharks netminder had signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday with the hope of joining that team, but since he started the season playing in Russia, the Red Wings had to put Nabokov on waivers, which exposed him to the 29 other teams.

Islanders GM Garth Snow had reached out to the 35-year-old Nabokov on Saturday shortly after the Islanders claimed him. Snow said when he identified himself on the phone, Nabokov immediately hung up.

Snow finally talked to Nabokov on Sunday and was told that Nabokov didn't realize who he was speaking to when abruptly ending the call.

Snow relayed the story to Nabokov's agent, Don Meehan, on Saturday and was told that he would discuss the matter with his client.

"He called me back 15 or 20 minutes later," Snow said of Meehan. "Donnie said, 'He didn't know it was you. He was on two or three different phones, and people from the media were calling him.'

"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 didn't speak to Nabokov until Sunday afternoon, during the Islanders' 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Nabokov had hoped to join the Wings, who entered Tuesday's games second in the Western Conference. Joining the Islanders, who are 14th in the Eastern Conference and 18 points out of a playoff spot, is not what he was hoping for.

Nabokov told ESPN.com on Sunday that his decision to spurn the Islanders is not personal. He merely intended to hook on with a title-contending team.

"I think I'm going to stay home for now, I'm sticking with my decision," Nabokov said Sunday. "It's nothing against the Islanders and their organization. It's nothing to do with that. It's just that I'm at the point in my career where I want to help a team win in the playoffs. I don't see how I could help the Islanders or what I could do for them. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. And I hope they understand that.

"I was surprised they picked me up. I was like, 'Wow, what's the point?'"

Nabokov, who played with the San Jose Sharks for parts of 10 seasons, had spent this season with SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian KHL and hadn't yet played for Detroit. The NHL's collective bargaining agreement states that anyone who plays in a professional league and then signs an NHL contract in that same season must clear waivers before joining that team.

"I understand the rules," Nabokov told ESPN.com. "We're not stupid. We knew what was going on before we made the decision. But I made this decision because the goal was to play with Detroit."

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