Saturday, 22 January 2011

A Job Some Would Kill For

I find it a little insulting that Evgeni Nabokov, recently released by the KHL and searching for employment in the NHL, has the nerve to turn down a job that admittedly would be tough. Having been signed by the Detroit Red Wings and placed on re-entry waivers, the New York Islanders swooped in and claimed Nabokov to help out with their goaltending situation. Nabokov, though, has stated that he will not report to Long Island, and that has me a little irked.

You probably know that I'm not really an Islanders fan despite me being a huge fan of the Fisherman movement. You might be asking yourself, "Teebz, why do you care about whether or not Nabokov plays for the Islanders", and I'll admit that it's not who he plays for that matters. Heck, he could be playing in the ECHL right now for all I care. It's his refusal to suit up for the Islanders that has me bothered.

Look, there are 30 NHL starting goaltender jobs in the NHL and 30 back-up goaltender jobs awaiting the next best goalie on each team. By default, Nabokov would be the starter or back-up based solely on how well he has played in the past. If you consider DiPietro's performance thus far this season, you'd have to think that Nabokov would be thrust into he starter's job almost automatically.

Being that he would have a guaranteed job through the end of the season with the Islanders plus giving the Islanders the option to trade him before or at the deadline to a contending team, it seems to me to be a no-brainer in terms of taking the job on Long Island. He would get to play, keep himself in shape, show off to the other 29 teams that he's still a top quality goaltender, and showcase himself for a trade or a major off-season signing as a free agent.

Honestly, for four months of work, Nabokov could set himself up very nicely for a good payday. There are players who have toiled in the minor leagues for years who would kill for an opportunity with any NHL team regardless of the situation or standing of the NHL team. It's an opportunity, and that's something you don't just ignore when opportunity comes knocking.

However, Nabokov chooses to remain in California, and the Islanders are left with the same conundrum before they claimed him on waivers. While it is certainly within Nabokov's right to sit this one out, he signed a deal with Detroit to suit up for them before the Islanders claimed him. It sounds to me like he's being quite selective in terms of who he plays for, and this is why I'm irked.

If I'm the Islanders, I'd ask the NHL to carry over the contract terms to next season and force Nabokov to either play or sit for another season. This sounds like I'm being vengeful towards Nabokov, but it's really a tit-for-tat situation. Had Nabokov shown up and played the four months, this entire article wouldn't exist. Instead, he's enjoying life in California while the Islanders struggle on the ice.

Some people would kill for the opportunity to play for the Islanders. I'm no murderer, but I'd love the opportunity to play in the NHL, even for just one day. Wouldn't you?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Anonymous said...

Why are YOU irked? Nabakov should be irked. He signed a contract with The Detroit Red Wings. Yes, I know, and he knows the waiver rules.
If he wanted to play with the Islanders and they wanted him, why not pursue him and offer him a contract? Why not see if he wants to play there? Nabakov had his opportunity years ago and is now in a position (financially)to choose where he wants to work. You seem to be amazed that someone wouldn't want to play in the NHL at any cost and make huge money. Isn't that what really irks you? He can rightfully opt not to report and to me, he is well within his right. There are other goalies (Lalime, Emery...) available. Got get one that wants to play for you if you need help.

Teebz said...

The Wings went and got one. Nabokov agreed to report. They then rolled the dice and hoped that no one would claim him.

The Islanders needed a goalie and claimed him. I don't care what he has a right to do. He should still report and play. If he wanted to wait and choose what team he wanted to play with, he just needed to sit out four more months.

Instead, he could remain as NYI property for next season as well. I feel the Islanders should stick it to him because he stuck it to them.

Instead of manning up and playing out the contract he signed, he's now trying to determine his own future. When you sign a contract, you adhere to the terms.

It's four months. Shut up and play, Nabokov. That's what irks me.

Peter Santellan said...

I actually have to agree with you. If you're looking for something similar to the Nabokov situation, look no further than the Alexei Yashin v. Ottawa situation, where Yashin held out for the 1999-2000 season (correct me if I'm wrong here), and someone ruled that he had to honor the contract, which forced him to play the following season.

How it relates to Nabokov is that it's the principle of the contract that has to be honored, no matter who it is that holds the rights.

D. Knoll said...

I can understand your frustration; you probably dreamed of playing professional hockey like a lot of us and can't understand someone refusing to paly in the NHL! I get it.
But, I find nothing wrong with him "trying to determine his own future" as you put it. Nabakov did not sign a contract with the NYIs as you intimate. He signed with an intent to pay with the DRWs.
To say that he "stuck" it to the NYI is a far stretch of what occurred. Though the DRWs and Nabakov knew he may be claimed, didn't the NYIs also realize that if selected he may not report?

Teebz said...

He signed a contract knowing that he had to clear waivers to gain employment in the NHL. Again, he signed a contract KNOWING he could be sent to hockey purgatory.

He doesn't get to determine where and when he can play once he signs the contract. That's what has been lost here. He's contractually obligated to report thanks to the contract he signed.

If he didn't want to risk this situation, he should have signed in July, not January.

Anonymous said...

Teebz, I understand your point of view. What I am having difficulty with is that you don't seem to implicate the NYIs in any way. The Isles selected someone they knew may not play and now they have a worse situation in net than if they had never selected him. They should have gone and gotten a goaltender they knew would want to be under contract with them. They apparently still need a goalie for February and March. You simply don't like that a player would snub the NHL. He chose not to play. And, as of now, Nabakov does get to determine when and if he plays in the National League

Anonymous said...

Teebz you are wrong again.

He is in no way contractually obligated to show up to Long Island and play. That might be your perception, but that is not true.

He controls this situation, not the Islanders and if he wants to sit this out (who can blame him) then he should. He cannot be made to play.

Teebz said...

The contract that he signed with Detroit is valid. Therefore when he passes through the waiver wire, he is signed to a contract that any team has to honour if he is claimed by another team.

I fail to see how he is not contractually-obligated to play for the Islanders. They are contractually required to pay him, and can suspend him (which they have done) for not showing up.

The Isles went out and grabbed a player who they want and need. They did what they had to in order to make themselves better. Again, I'm not saying the Isles didn't see this coming, but they still have to take a shot at making themselves better. They claimed Nabokov, they took a risk, and now they hold the cards in terms of Nabokov's playing status.

As per Bob McKenzie, "[t]he Islanders could appeal to the NHL to "toll" the contract, which essentially means push it to next year. In that case, Nabokov would then 'owe' the Islanders a year and Nabokov would not necessarily become a free agent on July 1."

This is something that Nabokov's agent knows, and all he had to do is play four months on Long Island to get himself out of this situation. Instead, he might be stuck in hockey purgatory until July 2012.

Shut up, suit up, and play. That's all he had to do. All of this would be a moot point had he just played out the contract. Instead, he potentially has a two-year vacation from hockey.

Jim BC said...

OK, so I've admitted this several times on this blog, but I am OLD SCHOOL.

I remember growing up and dreaming of playing in the NHL and loving the Habs. But here's the catch - if I was drafted by the Colorado Rockies, I would have been ecstatic! Because, you know, it's the NHL!

Nabakov wants to play with the Wings but hey, the Isles picked him up... too bad for him. I wish I had his problems... show up to work man!

Anonymous said...

If he wants to play in the NHL this year then you are correct - he has to go through the Islanders.

As far as the contract goes he signed a contract with a no-movement clause in it so the notion that the Islanders can trade him is also not true - he would go back to waivers and would get picked up by at least Detroit.

You can say shut up and play but there is no reason for him to do that.

The Islanders are an absolute disaster and have been for some time, from 15 year contacts to goalies to paying Yashin for years etc. This is just another in the long line of idiotic moves that they have made.

Another move that makes no sense. I would call it a savvy move if they could trade him but they can't.

And there is NO way the NHL tolls his contract and makes him stay on Long Island. Trust me, the NHL wants premier players to come back to the NHL and if the message is that you get screwed coming back to the NHL then none of these guys will come back.

Teebz said...

@Anonymous - They can certainly trade him. All he has to do is waive his no-trade clause. His no-movement clause prevents him from being buried in the minors.

He had FOUR MONTHS left on this contract before he became an unrestricted free agent. Because of his own stupidity, his "prison sentence" on Long Island could now be extended to July 2012.

All he had to do was play out the contract.

And the NHL can certainly toll his contract. The process that the Islanders followed was to the letter, and Nabokov owes them a contract year of service. It's the exact same situation that Alexander Radulov would face if he came back to the NHL - he owes the Nashville Predators one more year before he can hit free agency.

Face it: Nabokov's choice of not playing for a poor team - which was BOUND TO HAPPEN due to his record in the NHL - has now cost him dearly.

Anonymous said...


He has to go back on waivers before they can trade him. He would not clear waivers. Read McKenzie's article about them having no chance of trading him. You already quoted it. They can't trade him - Period.

Anonymous said...

Teebz, you've lost all sense. Cost him dearly. Stupidity. A year of service. Do you make this stuff up?

You write as if the only place for him to play is in your beloved NHL. Not so. There are other leagues if he chooses to play.

The stupidity lies with the Isles who are worse off than if they had never selected him.

You simply refuse to accept that he snubbed your beloved league. That he shunned the NHL.

Accept it. In your words; man up!


Teebz said...

"My beloved league"? Wow. That statement is borderline absurd.

1. He wanted to come back to the NHL. If he didn't, he wouldn't have signed.

2. Yes, he has to clear waivers. However, the value of trading a player who has yet to play in the NHL this season (Sheldon Souray, anyone?) is probably not worth the hassle, so why bother?

3. He didn't shun the NHL. He shunned the Islanders who wanted to give him a job - the same thing that the Red Wings offered him. The only difference? Nabokov has zero chance of winning a Stanley Cup with the Islanders.

Let me recap that: he only wants to play for a team with a shot at a Stanley Cup. Good for him. I'm glad he has his priorities straight.

The issue is that he chose Detroit knowing that he would get claimed via waivers. It's not like he was clueless about this.

If he wanted to play somewhere where the waiver rules wouldn't affect him, there are lots of AHL clubs that can sign him as a veteran player. He can play out the season there, and be done.

The Islanders are no worse since they have the same team as they did before claiming him.

The Red Wings are no worse since they have the same team before signing him.

The only person to blame for Nabokov's situation is Nabokov himself.

Anonymous said...

You crack me up!

1. He doesn't want the Islander's job in the NHL. (See the above posts, it's been pointed out to you numerous times) You can't fathom that. He took a chance, and..

2. Nabakov isn't belly aching about "his situation" or looking to lay blame. Apparently that's for you and the Islanders.

3. He wasn't in the NHL Friday, he isn't now. He's apparently okay with it, but you aren't.

Why is it so difficult for you to grasp the concept that he doesn't want to play in the NHL unless it's with the team with witch he signed? It's pretty simple but your comments clearly represent that you don't get it or won't accept it.


Teebz said...

Then why not wait until July to sign?

Answer me that, Joshua. If it was his intention in signing with Detroit, he had to know someone would claim him before he got to the Motor City. No agent is that dumb.

Anonymous said...

He took a did the Islanders.

Answer this? Why did the Islanders take him if he wasn't sure to play there and as you say, has no trade possibilities? Snow is that misinformed!


Anonymous said...

PS Why didn't the Islanders wait until July and offer him a contract then?

Teebz said...

The asking price that Nabokov put on himself last July was far out of the budget for the Islanders. Because Detroit signed him to a bare-bones, pro-rated contract, the Islanders can certainly afford a goaltender of his talent at that price through the waiver wire. Especially when they only are required to pay half of that bare-bones salary.

Low risk, high reward if he plays. No risk if he does not. That's why they took him.

There are 25 teams between Detroit and last-place in the NHL. Do you really think one of the other teams above the NYI wouldn't have claimed him just so he couldn't play with Detroit?

Again, if you're Nabokov's agent, why not just tell your client to wait until July if you know someone is bound to claim him through waivers?

Teebz said...

By the way, Joshua, I appreciate the discussion. Well done! :o)

I just want to say that my Monday article will have more on this.

Anonymous said...

Me too. Good points. Different takes.


Anonymous said...

You and Joshua need a room?

Teebz said...

No. But thank you for completely twisting the conversation in a direction that really isn't needed.