Estranged NHL goaltender Evegeni Nabokov returned to Russia last week to begin training for the upcoming World Championship in Slovakia. After spending a couple of days of working himself into shape, Nabokov spoke with media about his decision to walk away from the New York Islanders.
SportsHaze Russia with the scoop:
Question: Last Winter you signed a deal with the Red Wings and the Islanders claimed you off waivers. But then you refused to report to the Islanders. What would you say about this situation?
Evgeni Nabokov: In fact, back then we knew what we were doing. We understood that Detroit would have been a good chance to get back at the highest level. On the other hand, we realized that some team likely put in a claim on me. Unfortunately, that’s what happened.
Q: They say, that you hanged up the phone when Garth Snow called you.
EN: Oh, it’s very funny. Actually, nobody hanged up the phone. Snow just couldn’t reach me and in 20 minutes I called him myself. Everything happened in a constructive way.
Q: Dou you regret you left the Islanders and in that way almost ended your career?
EN: No, i think I did it right.
Q: Do you have a hard feeling against Islanders?
EN: That is not usual in North America. It’s just business, nothing personal.
Nabokov is trying to prepare himself for action at next month’s World Championships after being lured back to Russia by Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretyak. Despite a couple of months of inactivity, Tretyak is confident that Nabokov is in good enough shape to compete for the Russian team:
“Nabokov is in good shape. Of course, three months without playing it’s a long time. But Evgeny didn’t lose his good physical conditioning. I like his shape right now, it’s evident that he maintained his training routine during the forced break.”
Tretyak added that Nabokov could get some action as early as this week in one of two exhibition games this week:
“Surely. We’re going to play two games this week and Nabokov will play in one of them without a doubt. I have to admit, that after meeting Nabokov I’m in a great mood. We must support Evgeny and give him an opportunity to finish the season on an up note.”
Nabokov was released from his contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL back in December, and then inked a deal with the Detroit Red Wings before the Islanders attempted to snag him off of waivers. Nabokov infamously spurned the Isles and has since sat in limbo as far as his professional playing career goes.
The 35-year old former Calder Trophy winner hasn’t ruled out a return to either the NHL or KHL, but that will ultimately depend on the Islanders:
Q: Would you go to the Islanders training camp?
EN: I don’t know yet.
Q: And what about KHL? Maybe you would continue your career in the Motherland?
EN: It’s an open question too. The problem is that the Islanders can forbid me to play in the KHL.
We’re certainly not going to pass up an opportunity to re-post this video: