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Isles suspend Evgeni Nabokov

 The Islanders have suspended Russian goaltender Evgeni Nabokov for his refusal to report after the team claimed him off waivers.

General Manager Garth Snow took action after the 35-year-old netminder failed to get on a second flight the Islanders booked to bring him to Long Island. Snow talked to Nabokov twice Sunday and remained optimistic he'd change his mind about not reporting. But, after the Islanders sent him an itinerary for a second flight Monday, Nabokov again spurned the team's advances.

"He hasn't reported. We picked him up off waivers and anticipated he'd be part of our team, our organization. His failure to report led to this," Snow said.

Snow characterized the last conversation he had with Nabokov as "civil" but expressed disappointment with his decision.

"Yeah, We were excited when we made the claim and we felt he'd be a good addition to our locker room," Snow said.

While the drawn-out debacle has finally come to a concrete resolution,  the consequences for Nabokov may not be over. The Islanders still have the option to "toll" his contract, essentially pushing it back until the 2011-12 season. According to a league source, that appears to be what the Islanders plan on pursuing.

Snow was mum on those plans, however.

"I'm not looking that far in advance, to tell you the truth," Snow said.

If the Islanders decide to toll his contract, they'd have the former All Star and Vezina Trophy Finalist under contract for next season for a modest $570,000; the one-year deal he inked with the Red Wings also contains a no-move clause.

As of right now, Snow indicated he's in no rush to make his next move. And he has no reason to since he has all the leverage in the situation. Assuming Nabokov wants to play in the NHL again, he will have to go through the Islanders either this year or next.

The potential of a trade to send Nabokov anywhere else is virtually impossible given the convoluted waiver process he'd have to clear.

"It's status quo at this point in time," Snow said " We've suspended him. I don't have any prediction on what is going to happen days from now, weeks from now, months from now. As of right now he's failed to report to the club and we've suspended him."

Although Nabokov signed the deal as a free agent with Detroit Thursday, he had to clear waivers first because he played in Russia's KHL this season. Once the Islanders picked him up off waivers, however, he failed to join the club.

Nabokov  told Sunday that he was sticking with his decision to stay home despite the ramifications. A brief battle ensued when the report surfaced, after Nabokov claimed GM Garth Snow never called him as he said he'd done. Snow countered by telling reporters Nabokov hung up on him when he reached him by phone Saturday.

During the first intermission of the Islanders 5-3 loss to Buffalo Sunday, Nabokov and Snow finally made contact. During that conversation Snow was informed of Nabokov's intentions, although he held out hope he could change Nabokov's mind and made plans to speak to him at a later time.

Apparently, that didn't work.

"We talked about his anticipation of being a Detroit Red WIng and his intention not to come," Snow said. 

Although the Islanders are well out of playoff contention, Snow said he was surprised Nabokov didn't capitalize on an opportunity to return to the NHL. Nabokov parted ways with his KHL team, SKA St. Petersburg in December.

"It's a tough spot we're in regarding the playoffs but it's not insurmountable and I feel that with that claim he would've helped us get some much-needed wins."

Calls to Nabokov have not been returned.


New York Sports