San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has been named to Russia’s men’s ice hockey team for the 2006 Olympic Games. The Olympics will be hosted from Feb. 15-23 in Torino, Italy
This will mark Nabokov’s first international experience of any kind since joining the NHL. On the season, Nabokov owns an 8-9-4 record with a 3.00 goals-against average and a .887 save percentage. He has been victorious in five out of his last seven starts posting a 2.21 goals against average and a .928 save percentage in that span.
Nabokov was named to the 2002 Russian Olympic team, but was ruled ineligible due to one appearance with Kazakhstan as a youth. The IIHF has since changed their stance.
“The last time I represented them was with the CCCP in 1991 or 1992 when we played in Canada and then Lake Placid,” said Nabokov. “That was the last time I played with the Russians. When thing broke up (I played two or three games for Kazakhstan. Now I haven’t played internationally in 12 years.”
Due to that absence from international play, and the opportunity to represent Russia as its own country for the first time, Nabokov it more than ready for Turin.
“I’m really excited to go play in the Olympics,” said Nabokov.
As for Russia’s chances of bringing home the gold, they have the talent.
“We have some young legs and they will be hungry,” said Nabokov. “There are so many great teams, that it comes to who works the hardest and wants it more. We have the character and leadership. It is not an 80 game season. It is a six or eight game tournament.”
Nabokov is the Sharks all-time leader in wins (129), shutouts (26) and games played (281). In the midst of his sixth NHL season, he has posted three 30+ win seasons in his career.
The six-foot, 205-pound goaltender from Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan was originally selected by San Jose in the ninth round (219th overall) in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.