Goalie Evgeni Nabokov makes his return to Nassau Coliseum tonight for the first time as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning,
possibly and will start against his former team. While his Islanders tenure was filled with some hairy moments and inconsistent play, the eloquent Nabokov was one of the most intelligent and introspective players the Islanders have had in years.
Nowhere was this more evident than in Nabokov's frequent and playful post-game interviews with New York hockey institution Stan Fischler. Whether it was after a win or a loss, "Nabby and the Maven" was a consistently amusing mix of sports cliches, philosophy, oldies music and comic banter that was mostly a secret treasure just for Islanders fans.
Like any show, the interviews follow a set structure: Stan opens by reciting a lyric from an old pop song or showtune as the theme of the evening. Nabokov smiles, then goes into post-game talking points and some big picture pondering. Stan will praise Nabokov - sometimes to the point of awkwardness - which the goalie humbly diffuses. Stan will then ask about the future and Nabokov will end the interview with a wisecrack, some Russian wisdom or a combination of both. Then everyone laughs.
This list isn't even close to being complete, but it should work as a quick primer to a very unique reporter-player relationship. After Nabokov's retirement, let's hope the two get a show on NHL.com or Islanders TV together.
Cast of Characters:
Stan Fischler as "Stan."
Evgeni Nabokov as "Nabby."
Oct. 8, 2013: In which Nabby worries that Stan will jinx him and Stan tries to get Nabby to play forward.
Dec. 20, 2013: In which Nabby ponders goaltending and Stan gets annoyed.
Oct. 14, 2013: In which Stan channels Johnny Cash.
Jan. 29, 2014: In which Stan complements Nabby's hat.
Jan. 2, 2014: In which Stan and Nabby debate who knows more about what and Stan references Serge Savard.
April 9, 2013: In which Stan calls Nabby "a cool cat" and Nabby cautions against information overload.
April 17, 2013: In which Stan and Nabby talk about sealing deals and their theme song.