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Emotional Evgeni Nabokov recalls his years with San Jose Sharks
10.12.2013. San Jose Mercury News. By Curtis Pashelka

SAN JOSE — One of the first and most obvious questions posed to New York Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov on Tuesday afternoon was to describe his favorite memories as a member of the Sharks. While Nabokov didn't go into any of his on-ice accomplishments, he did talk about the relationships he developed in 10 years with the organization.

"A lot of good memories here," said a somewhat emotional Nabokov, referencing his start in the organization with former coach Darryl Sutter and former general manager Dean Lombardi, the team's late goaltending coach Warren Strelow and assistant general manager Wayne Thomas.

"It starts with Darryl and Dean, Warren being around and Wayne. ... It's been ... a lot of good memories."

Nabokov has been out since Nov. 18 as he recovers from a groin injury, but does appear to be getting closer to returning to the Islander lineup, perhaps as soon as later this week. He did spend about 30 minutes after the Islanders' morning skate was over working with other players who will be scratches for tonight's game.

Nabokov wished he could play on the same SAP Center ice surface where he began his NHL career, although he admitted it could have also been "a little bit awkward" playing again in the building.

This is the second meeting between the teams since the Sharks parted ways with Nabokov after 563 games, declining to offer him a new contract in June 2010. Nabokov missed the first meeting as well, on Oct. 29, 2011, also with a groin injury.

"In the summer time when the schedule came out, you look at that and put a checkmark there and get excited," said Nabokov, who still has a home in the Bay Area. "It's different, though. It's not the same. You still have some excitement, but you still have a lot of good memories."

Nabokov, 38, who signed a one-year contract with the Islanders in July, spent 10 seasons with the Sharks and is still the franchise's leader in several goaltending categories, including wins (293) and shutouts (50).

"It would have been nice," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said Tuesday of going against Nabokov. "Nabby was a teammate for a lot of years and a good competitor, so it's too bad he's hurt right now."

"Nabby's time here, that I spent with him, I thoroughly enjoyed," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who coached Nabokov for two seasons. "He's a tremendous goaltender and as competitive an individual as we've had. It's great to see him getting another opportunity for the Islanders."


Страничка Евгения Набокова на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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