How do you take what should be a storybook career and burn any possibility of being remembered as an elite goalie? Sign a 4 year contract with the KHL when your 36 years old just about assuring you will never play in the NHL again.
Dom should be an agent, as he saw this coming from a mile away. The two top goalies (depending on your view of Turco) held out for more money and now find themselves scrambling for a job. For Evgeni Nabokov though this upcoming NHL season should have been a chance to prove all the doubters wrong. How many other goalies have been able to pick and choose between three cup contenders (Sharks, Flyers, Capitals) while being considered a playoff choke artist. Instead of being remembered as a former 9th round pick (who was only selected due to the Sharks being familiar with his father) who fought his way into the starters job and was able to finish his career with a Stanley Cup, he'll be remembered as someone who jumped to the KHL for the Money.Time and again as the Sharks choked in the playoffs, it was Nabokov who got the majority of the blame. Since he was the one player who was a part of all their playoff collapses. But it doesn't take a lot of work to realize that Nabokov put up similar numbers in the playoffs as the regular season. Instead it was the Sharks defense which faltered time and again. A year ago Michael Leighton was a virtual unknown. Now he's most likely going to be the starter for the defending Eastern Conference Champs. As much as Leighton got the Flyers into the playoffs, it was their defense which made that run possible. How many other teams making the cup Finals have played with a near 50% Split in their starters over the playoffs?
We can only imagine what if Nabokov had signed with the Flyers, Capitals or even the Sharks. Instead of caring about how he might be remembered, possibly getting his name on the cup and proving his critics wrong, he wanted his 6 million a year. In the end Nabokov proved that he was a choker. Going to the KHL is just another sign that he didn't want to be considered "The Man" in Philly, Washington or San Jose. Maybe he didn't want to fall short in another playoff series and have the stigma even more entrenched in people's minds.
Of course that's part of the risk, but very few people would argue that adding Nabokov could make these teams worse. He probably could have signed a one or two year deal at a pay cut, and then once that deal was done go to Russia for 6 Million a year. The KHL doesn't have the Stanley Cup. Not only that, but Nabokov could win a championship four straight times and people would still consider him a choker when it was all said and done. It could have been a great story. A complete unknown drafted in the 9th round, works his way up the teams depth chart and beats out higher prospects. The teams struggles in the playoffs are blamed on him, and he signs elsewhere winning the cup and cementing his legacy. Instead he'll be remembered as someone who ran to the KHL because he HAD to make 6 million a year.