He may not have felt comfortable joining the New York Islanders for a playoff run last season, but Evgeni Nabokov says he’ll be ready for their training camp next month.
The goaltender said Monday he’ll be reporting to the National Hockey League club in September when players begin working out in preparation for the 2011-12 season.
“Yes I do plan on attending,” Nabokov told Newsday. “Now I will have full preparation for the season.”
Last season was a bit of a roller-coaster for Nabokov. After spending parts of 10 seasons with the San Jose Sharks, the 36-year-old left for the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia, signing a four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg.
When the club released him from his contract late last year, Nabokov agreed to a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings in January but had to clear waivers in order to return to the NHL, allowing the Isles to swoop in and claim him.
When he refused to report to Long Island, the team suspended him.
Nabokov says his reasons for not joining the Islanders had nothing to do with the organization.
“That’s totally not true,” Nabokov told Newsday. “What made me make that decision is that I hadn’t skated for a month-and-a-half when they claimed me. They were out of the playoffs, but battling to get in and, as a goalie, I know the goalie position is important when fighting for position (in the standings).
“I didn’t feel that I could help them to get to the playoffs. I needed three to four weeks to get ready and the season would’ve been over.
“I was not feeling the strongest and Detroit was in a totally different position,” Nabokov added. “They were going to the playoffs and willing to wait. The Islanders needed help then.”
Nabokov, a ninth-round pick (219th overall) by San Jose in the 1994 entry draft, posted a 44-16-10 record with a 2.43 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in his final season (2009-10) with the Sharks, whom he led to the Western Conference final that year.
The native of Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan, has a career record of 293-178-29-37 with a 2.39 GAA and .912 save percentage and was a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2008.
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