It was only a few months ago back in February of the 2014-15 season that former San Jose Sharks goalie, Evgeni Nabokov, had announced his retirement as a Shark via press conference. The fan favorite had previously played for the Tampa Bay Lightning before being traded back to San Jose, who originally drafted him in the 1994 Entry Draft, for his retirement.
Now, the 40-year-old is back as the Sharks, and the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda, GMs Doug Wilson and Joe Will named Nabby the goaltending coach and special assignment scout for the organization. The news, which was announced during Saturday’s Sharks Fan Fest, was met by joyous cheering from the crowd along with chants of “Nabby! Nabby!”
For Sharks fans, who witnessed their team come off one of the most inconsistent stretches of hockey in team history, missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 season, it was one special bright spot in an offseason that was filled with much better and much needed offseason moves.
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To this day, Nabokov holds nearly every goaltending record in franchise history, including 563 games played, 293 wins and 50 shutouts.
He ranked 18th on the NHL’s all-time wins list with 353, 17th in shutouts with 59, and 25th in games played by a goaltender (697). Throughout his career, he had 86 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, and ranks 23rd all-time in postseason wins with 42, and is tied for 20th in postseason shutouts.
Nabby helped lead the Sharks to two of the franchise’s three Western Conference Final appearances in 2004 and 2010. In all, Nabokov appeared in 697 career NHL games, he finished with a record of 353-227-29-71 posting a 2.44 GAA and 9.11 save percentage.
Nabokov won the Calder Memorial Trophy in his first full NHL season in 2001 as the League’s Rookie of the Year, and was named on the 2000-01 NHL All-Rookie Team along with being named an All-Star. He was also a three-time NHL Player of the Month, three-time NHL Player of the Week and two-time NHL Rookie of the Month, as well as 11-time Sharks Player of the Month and two-time Sharks Player of the Year.
Among all those accolades he received, Nabokov was also one of few goalies in the league to score a goal. In 2002, in a game against the Vancouver Canucks, he became the seventh goaltender to light the lamp, but the first to do so while on the power play.
In his new role with the San Jose Sharks, Nabokov will focus on the skills and development of the Sharks’ goaltending prospects. One can only hope he will teach them the same dedication and hard work to their craft that Nabokov displayed throughout his time in San Jose.