Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Nabokov, Islanders squabble like teenagers

Blame, accusations bounce back and forth

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UNIONDALE, N,Y. -- If you had no idea that Islanders general manager Garth Snow and Russian goaltender Evgeni Nabokov were the protagonists in Sunday's soap opera-like saga, it would appear to be a classic junior high tale of unrequited desire.

He didn't show. He never called. He hung up on me!

One day after the Islanders claimed Nabokov off waivers and he refused to report, an ugly battle erupted between the 35-year-old netminder and the beleaguered organization.

With the Islanders holding out hope he'd change his mind and show up -- Snow and team owner Charles Wang said they had left him several messages that went unreturned -- Nabokov told ESPN.com he had no intention of reporting. But here's the funny part: He said he never received a message, either.

And that's when things got interesting.

Snow defended himself and said Nabokov actually hung up on him when he called Saturday.

According to Snow, Nabokov's agent, Don Meehan, called shortly afterward to apologize. Meehan said Nabokov was juggling multiple phone lines and didn't realize it was Snow calling.

"I just gave him the benefit of the doubt and I said to Donnie, 'Do me a favour. When he gets done with all his phone calls, give him my number and get back to me,' " Snow said.

Regardless, Snow never received a callback, prompting Wang to reach out to the former All-Star and Vezina Trophy finalist. That message also went unreturned.

Soon after the puck dropped at Nassau Coliseum on Sunday afternoon for the Islanders' game against the Buffalo Sabres, an ESPN.com report surfaced in which Nabokov told a reporter he had not heard from Snow and had no intention of reporting to the Islanders.

Nabokov then called Snow during the first intermission to patch things up and clear the air.

"He said he didn't know it was me," Snow said. "I'm not mad. I've been traded. I've never been put on waivers, but there's a lot of confusion."

The two also made plans to continue the talk later.

Nabokov had been playing in Russia in the KHL. He left that league and signed an NHL deal with the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. However, he had to clear waivers first and the Islanders, to his chagrin, claimed him.

 

-- Newsday

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 24, 2011 C3

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