The trade rumor involving Nabokov that was and then wasn’t on Thursday night picked up so much steam not because of the… Err… “Source” it came from but because it was so believable. The Blue Jackets need goaltending and are wildly overspending their money while the Islanders need a big, hulking defenseman like Fedor Tyutin. Is that an even trade skill wise? Not really. Not for what would likely be a one-year rental in Nabokov. But if the Jackets wanted to get away from Tyutin’s contract — and the Islanders and Nabokov need to get away from each other — it was a good fit.
But this is the kind of thing that will happen when a team is actively trying to get rid of a player who has no interest in being here. Make no mistake, Nabokov didn’t all of a sudden change his tune this summer when deciding to report to the Islanders. This is about a 36-year old taking one last shot at the NHL and the elusive pot of gold at the end of the playoff rainbow. He made a mistake not reporting last year, which would have allowed him to find another team for this season. Somewhere along the line he realized that until he bit the bullet and came to Long Island, there was no way he was going to get what he wanted — another team and another shot at a Cup. Nabokov owes the Islanders a year of service unless the Islanders say otherwise and you can’t wrong Garth Snow for not blinking when Nabokov tried to have things his way. The Islanders, as we know, do not care much for what others want them to do. They’re going to do what they want, when they want, how they want.
Now, it’s time to do what needs to be done. The Islanders need to send Nabokov on his merry way, even if that means getting a measly return for him. They have a wealth of goaltenders — five not including Nabby — that all need to find playing time to prove themselves or develop into NHL netminders. A 36-year old does a team with such young depth no good. The Islanders also have much bigger concerns right now then something that shouldn’t be a distraction, but now is a distraction. The constant questions, debate and rumor mongering that has been a sideshow took center stage on Thursday night. The focus should have been on the team that wilted on the ice in a key third period on the road, not on the goalie in the press box.
The Islanders have been lucky that the three-headed goalie monster has not been an issue on the ice.
The fact is that it has not significantly affected the outcome of games is excellent. Off the ice, however, is a different story and that’s the problem. It’s an unnecessary distraction, is keeping a player on Long Island who has no interest being here and is taking reps away from all three players involved.
When responding to a question at practice on Wednesday about why Al Montoya hasn’t played much, here’s what Capuano had to say:
“To give you a concrete answer is tough for me to do.”
The coach who never gives an answer for his roster decisions sort of gave one. It alludes to a coach who either: had an odd choice of words for saying ‘no comment’, or has to keep mum on the subject. It could certainly be the former. If it’s the latter, then we can open a rather large can of worms and make assumptions about who is calling the shots about who minds the net.
Regardless of what the reasoning is or if it was just a coach giving reporters a quirky ‘no comment’ the point is that the conversation shouldn’t be happening in the first place. The discussion should be on why the team is sputtering, what is being done to spark a fire in certain players and the like. Instead — and I’m going to get meta — the media is left to write blog posts like this one, talking about a player who doesn’t want to be here, the team is actively shopping and is a distraction that has played a grand total of four games.