There’s been no shortage of speculation about how short Evgeni Nabokov’s stay with the Islanders might be, but if the colors and logos on his new mask are any indication, the veteran Russian stopper intends to stay on Long Island for a while.
Photos of Nabokov’s new-look lid arrived at InGoal Magazine courtesy of his long-time artist Todd Miska of Miska Designs, and there was not shying away from the team he refused to report to last season after being claimed off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings .
Nabokov, who started last year playing in the Kontinental Hockey League in his native Russia before coming home for family reasons, joined the Islanders’ informal skates on Thursday. His mask should join him there soon – though considering there were four goalies sharing two nets upon his arrival (Rick Dipietro, Al Montoya and Kevin Poulin were also there), the speculation about a possible trade and how long the 35-year-old will need the blue-and-orange mask isn’t going away.
As for the art, Nabokov continued with the same skull-creature theme he wore throughout his career in San Jose, mixing in a personal touch with important names on the back plate that are explained below (and after you’re done checking out Nabokov’s new mask be sure to read InGoal‘s interview with Miska, and check out some of his other great designs on his website, like Nabokov’s 2010 Olympic mask):
While the skull and body, “Nabby” on the chin, and number “20″ (for boyhood idol Vladislav Tretiak) are familiar to anyone who has followed Nabokov, not all will know the stories behind all the names on his backplate (below).
The top names are for his children, Andrei and Emily, and “Warren” is for long-time Sharks goalie guru Warren Strelow, who was a father figure and mentor for Nabokov after first coming to North America before passing away in April 2007 at age 73.
“Anna” is for Anna Gorouven, who also passed away. She was not his wife, though the two of them are the biggest reason Nabokov didn’t return to Russia for good during his first year playing in North America:
“It wasn’t easy to come over, especially my first year, I wasn’t happy the way everything was happening,” Nabokov once told InGoal “One time coach said you are playing today in the morning and then three hours later he came to me and said you are not playing and that’s when I was like ‘OK, maybe it’s time to go back home and said goodbye.’ But then I had a really good friend of mine, she was helping me a lot, Anna, and we sat down and I told her what I was feeling and I was pissed off and said ‘I’m going to go back home. I enjoyed my time at home, my career was good.’ But she said `you’ve got to think about it, you came here to reach certain goals and maybe you should be more patient and stay.’ And then I met my wife – she’s from the States – so I said ‘OK I’ll give it another shot.’”
So a girl kept you here?
“Well, girls, plural.”