Archive for January, 2011


Veteran goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has been suspended for refusing to report to the New York Islanders after the team claimed him off waivers last week. Islanders’ GM Garth Snow felt he had no other choice after he was unable to talk the goalie into reporting for duty over the weekend.

Nabokov signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings last Thursday but first had to clear waivers. When he was instead claimed by the Islanders, he chose to remain at his California home rather than report. The snub by Nabokov forced Snow’s hand, and the goalie was placed on suspension.

At this point, the Islanders have a few courses of action to take. They can put Nabokov through waivers again in order to trade him but risk getting nothing in return. They can keep him on suspension for the rest of the season and allow him to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, or they have the option to continue the suspension indefinitely until Nabokov honors his contract. As of now, Nabokov says he stands by his decision and will not report.

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Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov’s return to the NHL has taken an unexpected turn. After ten seasons minding the nets for the San Jose Sharks, the Kazakhstani goalie received no off-season contract offers from any team in the league even though he led the Sharks to the Western Conference Finals last spring. Thus, he decided to sign a four-year deal to play for SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) only to be released in December because of “family issues.” 

Hoping to return to the NHL, Nabokov and his agent Don Meehan looked to broker a deal for the 35-year-old to play for a team in need of veteran experience. That opportunity presented itself when Detroit Red Wings’ starting goalie Jimmy Howard suffered a bruised knee a week ago. Howard’s backup, Chris Osgood, was already on the injured list due to surgery to repair a hernia. As the Red Wings turned to Joey MacDonald, the goalie with their AHL team in Grand Rapids, the Wings began to look for help between the pipes. Nabokov seemed like the perfect solution, so the Wings offered him a one-year, pro-rated contract. All Nabokov had to do was clear re-entry waivers…and that’s where things took an odd turn.

When Nabokov was put on re-entry waivers, that meant any team in the league could claim him, and that’s just what happened. Notoriously in need of good goaltending and with rookies being rotated in and out to backup the often injured veteran Rick DiPietro, the New York Islanders claimed Nabokov off waivers leaving the Red Wings high and dry.

Many news outlets as well as his agent say that Nabokov won’t report to the Islanders. However, Islanders GM Garth Snow says he wants to hear it from Nabokov himself. As of Saturday afternoon, Snow had still not spoken directly to the netminder.

“Everything is on the up-and-up. I am waiting to speak to the player, but we have spoken to his agent Don Meehan and, as a veteran in this business, he knows what is to come next,” said Snow.

“I haven’t talked to the player yet. I’ve left messages. We’ve booked him a flight out of Oakland we look forward to having him be a part of our organization,” Snow told TSN.

According to NHL rules, any player claimed off waivers has to report to the team which claimed him. Also according to the rules, Nabokov can’t be sent to the AHL because he didn’t sign before Dec. 15, and the Islanders can’t trade him without putting him through the waiver process again.

“We tried something, and he’s been claimed by another team,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press. “We move on. It’s the nature of the rules and the league.”

While it’s still up in the air what will happen next, it appears that Nabokov has no choice but to report to the Islanders. Meanwhile, the Red Wings will no doubt continue searching for a healthy veteran backup for Jimmy Howard.

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With much anticipation, Anaheim Ducks centerman Saku Koivu returned to Montreal on Saturday to face the Canadiens. It was the first time in two years that Koivu visited the city which he once called home.

Before the opening faceoff, the crowd cheered and gave Koivu a 90-second standing ovation. The 36-year-old Finnish native saluted the crowd and patted his chest over his heart to thank the fans for such a warm welcome. Koivu’s ties to the city of Montreal go deeper than his captaincy of the Canadiens’ for the last ten of his thirteen years with the team. He credits the fans’ support as part of the reason he won his battle over non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma during the 2001-2002 season.

Koivu would have remained with the Canadiens, but management decided to rebuild the team and didn’t offer their captain a contract to return after the 2008-2009 season. He weighed his options and, with some gentle nudging from his longtime friend and countryman Teemu Selanne, decided to sign a one-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks for the 2009-2010 season. During the summer of 2010, he signed a two-year extension to remain with the Ducks.

Facing off against Montreal, Anaheim scored first on a power play. A blast from rookie defensemen Cam Fowler got past Canadiens goalie Carey Price to put the Ducks up 1-0 in the first period. During the second period, the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty tied the game at 1-1. The Ducks scored two more goals in the second but lost the lead when the Habs answered with two goals to tie it in the third and send the game into overtime. After a scoreless overtime period, the game went to a shootout during which the Ducks’ Bobby Ryan was the only shooter to score ending the game 4-3 Ducks.

After the media blitz surrounding his return and his anxiety about playing the game, Koivu is looking forward to heading back home to Anaheim. The last game of the Ducks’ 4-game road trip is on Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets where a win would give the Ducks 6 points out a possible 8 on the trip.  

– CeeCee

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The NHL has fined LA Kings’ President and GM Dean Lombardi $50,000 for comments following his team’s Thursday night 2-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. The comments were as a result of a questionable play in which the puck entered the net off what appeared to be a high stick by the Coyotes’ Martin Hanzal. The play was reviewed by the Situation Room in Toronto and Mike Murphy, the NHL’s Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations. After a lengthy review, the on-ice decision that it was a good goal was allowed to stand.

In his anger following the game, Dean Lombardi commented that Mike Murphy’s decision to let the goal stand was due to a bias against the LA Kings because Murphy was not hired as the Kings’ general manager.

“When the guy in Toronto making the decisions on the goals, in Ottawa (in a game on Nov. 22) and the one tonight, wanted the GM’s job in LA and was not happy about not getting it, you have to assume you are going to get those type of calls.

“However, we have put ourselves in a position where these calls have a monumental effect on our season, and we’re going to have to find a way out of it ourselves,” said Lombardi.

Friday morning as the NHL announced Lombardi’s fine, Commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement:

“There is no acceptable explanation or excuse for commentary challenging the integrity of the League’s Hockey Operations Department in general or Mike Murphy, in particular.

“People can disagree with a call by an official on the ice or an official in the Situation Room in Toronto, but even in instances of the utmost frustration there is no justification for speaking as inappropriately and irresponsibly as Mr. Lombardi did. Mike Murphy is a devoted caretaker of the game. His commitment to the National Hockey League, all 30 of its Clubs – and to the game – is beyond challenge, question or debate.

“I have spoken to Dean, who has apologized to Mike Murphy and to me and has acknowledged that his comments were wrong, inappropriate and without merit.”


The call in Ottawa to which Lombardi referred was another game in which a reviewed call went against the Kings.

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On Saturday morning, NHL great Peter Forsberg will practice with the Colorado Avalanche prior to an afternoon game against the Boston Bruins. The 37-year-old will see if he’s physically in shape to return to his former team with whom he last played in 2007-2008. The team reportedly has cap space and would welcome the superstar’s return to the league especially as it struggles with the loss of a few key players.

In addition to being hampered by a groin injury during his last season in Colorado, Forsberg also had recurring problems with a broken right foot on which he had surgery to repair an arch deformity. Despite his nagging injuries, Forsberg played for Team Sweden during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and carried his country’s flag during the Opening Ceremonies.

Although Forsberg played in the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons with Modo Hockey in the Swedish Premier League, he hasn’t been playing for any team this season. Should the Avs sign him, he may not actually make an appearance for a few weeks.

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