When the Sharks traded for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Evgeni Nabokov earlier this week, I was ecstatic. Given all the amazing stats he earned during his original San Jose Sharks stint from 1999 to 2010, I fully expected him to give the current Sharks roster a lift in its race for a playoff spot.
Sadly, it was not to be. At noon today, Nabokov announced his retirement from the NHL. Chosen by the Sharks in the ninth round of the 1994 NHL draft, he earned a shutout in his NHL debut on January 19, 2000. (The game ended in a 0-0 tie.) He holds the vast majority of the Sharks’ goaltending records, and several NHL records. He was the first goalie to score a power-play goal, the first European-born goalie to score an NHL goal, and the first goalie to win eleven consecutive road games. He won the NHL Calder Memorial Trophy (given to the rookie of the year) in 2001. He played in three IIHF World Championships, winning the gold medal and Best Goaltender Award for Russia in 2008. He also played in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. Nabokov played for the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL, and had KHL stints with Metallurg Magnitogorsk and St. Petersburg SKA. His wit and honesty always have made for entertaining interviews, such as this classic Shark Byte Quick Quiz from 2006:
I’ll put up the press conference video once I find a working link. In the meantime, Nabokov’s remarks (which will tug heavily at your heartstrings) are here. I’m so sorry we couldn’t give you a Stanley Cup when you played for the Sharks, Nabby. I hope that someday you’ll join the Sharks’ coaching staff and win one that way. In the meantime, best of luck, and thank you for an amazing career!