His bid to return to the National Hockey League has been nothing but complex: Evgeni Nabokov was signed by the Detroit Red Wings yesterday, claimed by the New York Islanders off waivers today, and now he's refusing to suit up for New York, TSN reports.
Nabokov was released in December by the KHL's St. Petersburg after a mediocre 8-8-5 record and .888 save percentage. He had hoped to make the move from Russia to Stanley Cup contender Detroit and embark on an NHL playoff run.
NHL rules state that any player coming to the NHL from another professional league must clear waivers before he is signed. Nabokov did not pass through waivers, as the NHL's third-worst team the New York Islanders snagged him up today.
ESPN's Scott Burnside tweeted, "Guess after all those Stanley Cups and Vezinas Nabokov can afford to snub the Isles. Oh wait."
Nabokov, 35, played all nine NHL seasons with San Jose before bolting for Russia's KHL at the end of last season. His all-time NHL record is 293-178-29 with a 2.39 GAA and .912 save percentage. He has never won the Stanley Cup or Vezina Trophy as the lead's top goaltender.
UPDATE: Newsday Islanders beat writer Katie Strang spoke with Islanders General Manager Garth Snow, who says, "We claimed him off waivers, he has a SPC. My position is that he's a New York Islander and we look forward to having him."
UPDATE (2): The Calgary Sun's Eric Francis also spoke with Snow and was told, "Once (Nabokov) gets here we know he'll fall in love with this city and organization."
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