Wow I still really can’t believe it. The guy who has been with the Sharks organization from 1999-2010 will be coming back to the NHL in 2011-12 wearing a different uniform.
Personally I liked Nabby. Maybe you didn’t think he was the guy to backstop the Sharks to a Stanley Cup… he obviously never did… but you know his regular season stats don’t lie. He was a solid regular season goalie for the Sharks. Check it out here, he had over 40 wins his last three years as a starter in San Jose. That is nothing to scoff at.
That’s not bad for being a 9th round, 214th overall pick in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. I don’t know about you but when I think of San Jose Sharks goalies, the two that immediately come to mind are Arturs Irbe and Evgeni Nabokov. Maybe that is the way many people will feel, and perhaps one day Nabby will be awarded a bronzed plaque at the HP Pavilion like Irbe has. I mean do we honestly sit back and say “Remember Eddie Belfour and Mike Vernon?”, I know that I don’t.
Yet it’s possible that many fans will remember Nabby’s time here with the Sharks as only making it to 2 Western Conference Finals, and both times could never get over the hump. Perhaps it will be the humiliating first round defeat to the 8th seeded Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the 2009 playoffs. That year the sharks had won the Presidents Trophy for having the best NHL regular season record.
The playoffs are where it counts, there’s no denying that. You can have a sub-par regular season, then sneek into the playoffs on the last day and do some real damage… Just look at the 2010 Flyers and Canadiens. It appears that Sharks GM Doug Wilson feels the same way about the playoffs, opting to not resign Nabby last year and instead acquire the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion goalie Annti Niemi at a reduced contract cost. I guess if I were Doug Wilson I would have also felt that getting a championship winning goalie was the way to improve my team. The Sharks haven’t had a championship winning goalie starting for them since Mike Vernon’s stint here (remember that Belfour won his cup in 1999 for Dallas), and having winners with experience on your team can make you better.
Ok, I honestly get all that… but still it feels weird for me. That’s why this year I will be following Nabby to see how he is doing. Will he start for the NY Islanders? That remains to be seen. However I do feel he will get some playing time as Rick DiPietro has a long history of injury issues and Al Montoya is not yet a proven NHL go-to netminder. When Nabby does get a chance to play this year I hope he does well.
So now you know that I will be keeping tabs on Nabby. But I have another question? Is it easier to keep tabs on Nabby and cheer for him because he plays in the other NHL conference? I mean what if things had worked out differently and the Islanders didn’t claim him off re-entry waivers? He would still be playing for the Detroit Red Wings. I would then have to re-evaluate my feelings on cheering for him. I would still want him to do well, but not at the expense of the Sharks.
I guess I can sum up my first post here on Blades of Teal as saying that I liked you Nabby, there were some good times with you as a Shark, but Niemi is a proven winner, so good luck on Long Island… except against the Sharks!
What do you all think? Will be you be cheering for Nabby? Why or why not? Let your voices be heard in the comments section!