One day after reports surfaced that Russian goaltender Evgeni Nabokov would not report to the Islanders, who claimed him off waivers Saturday, team owner Charles Wang expressed bewilderment over the situation.
"I dont see why somebody who has this opportunity would not want to play and fulfill his contract. It's nuts, right? I don't understand any of it," Wang said in a press conference about his annual international children's hockey tournament.
Wang reiterated general manager Garth Snow's message from Saturday: Nabokov is an Islander and the team expects him to report.
"Here is somebody the Islanders wants that wants to play, has a contract with the NHL, really. So ,we're waiting for him and looking forward to having him," Wang said. "It's a great thing to have him. He's a good player. From every indication he's a star and he has a great opportunity to come back in play at the highest level of the sport. God bless him."
Although Wang and Snow have both personally reached out to Nabokov since claiming him off waivers--he had to clear waivers after signing as a free agent with Detroit Thurday--he has yet to return their calls.
However, the Islanders are still preparing for his arrival with the expectation he will honor his contract.
"Why wouldn't he show up? I'm still expecting him. Flights are booked. If you go into the locker room the locker, the locker stall is prepared, his uniform is prepared. If you look at notes for game, his name is on it," Wang said.
Wang was also asked about the stalled Lighthouse Project, which seems to have been more or less abandoned at this point.
"No there's nothing new. We're still waiting," Wang said. "We will play here 'til 2015. We'll consider other options. I've never varied form that mantra, so to speak. I'm not going to create any news for you. It's very simple. This is what we have proposed, this is what we want to do."
"We always will continue to evaluate all options, but this will be done in a private way."
When asked when he needs a commitment to viably relocate the team by 2015, Wang said:
"It depends where they are located, do they have an arena in the area? If they do you can do it a little later, if they don't it takes some time to build something."
Wang also would not commit to retaining ownership of the team if he has no feasible relocation option for the team by 2015.
"We're not going to talk about this. We're focused on one thing today, the Lighthouse hockey tournament. I don't know what we're going to do. We're considering all options."