The New York Islanders seemed to argue that they’ll be heard from again despite losing their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but that doesn’t mean that the same cast of characters will be back.
While captain Mark Streit might be the biggest offseason question mark, the Islanders face a murky situation in net, as well.
The New York Post reports that the team last spoke to Evgeni Nabokov about a new contract about four weeks ago. The veteran netminder stated that he’d like to return to the team during his exit interview, for one thing.
“I think Garth will make his decision,” Nabokov said. “I told him I would like to stay, but we were fighting for the playoffs and nothing was going on. Now we have to see.”
On one hand, Nabokov was a workhorse goalie for the Isles in 2013. He played in 41 out of the team’s 48 regular season games, going 23-11-7 with a .910 save percentage and 2.50 GAA. Kevin Poulin was the only other netminder to register a win for the team in 2013 (1-3-0 in the regular season).
Still, Nabokov is 37 and had a rough series against the Penguins, sporting a putrid .842 save percentage and 4.44 GAA. While a small sample size of games against a high-powered offense isn’t a fair barometer for what he can do, he isn’t getting any younger and didn’t put up all-world stats in the regular season.
Ultimately, it all comes down to which direction GM Garth Snow wants to go in and what Nabokov demands.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.