‘Somber’ feeling in Tampa Bay as Nabokov clears waivers

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With no teams taking a flier on Evgeni Nabokov — the veteran netminder cleared waivers this morning — the Lightning spoke Monday about the difficult situation at hand.

“You dread things like that ever having to happen,” Bolts head coach Jon Cooper told the Tampa Tribune. “Sometimes the reality that this is a business comes out. It’s an extremely tough situation.”

Nabokov, 39, has an uncertain future. It’s unclear if he’d accept an assignment to AHL Syracuse and the No. 2 goaltending spot behind Ben Bishop is now Andrei Vasilevskiy’s, who earned the gig with a strong showing earlier in the season.

As you’d expect, there is talk of retirement. Nabokov has looked shaky throughout the year. He was signed this summer to provide veteran experience and stability in the backup spot, something that was problematic in Tampa Bay last season, but couldn’t be relied upon consistently and may now be forced to call it quits just three games shy of the 700 plateau (a fairly noteworthy accomplishment, as only 24 goalies in league history have played that many.)

Bishop said it’s tough watching Nabokov go through this.

“It’s a somber feeling right now,” he explained.