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After Evgeni Nabokov infamously spurned the Islanders last season, GM Garth Snow got league approval to toll Nabokov's contract, forcing him to honor his contractual obligation to the team.
Suffice to say, Nabby's tenure in Nassau was expected to last about as long as Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries' marriage. No one could've guessed that he'd spend the entire season on Long Island and that he'd sign on for another.
Garth Snow had plenty of opportunities to rip on Nabokov but always said the right things. He never burned his bridges and played the situation as well as one possibly can, despite what the Canadian media might tell you.
Nabokov may have had his doubts about playing here, and he certainly acted on 'em last year. The fans were ticked off at him, and for good reason. But the players in that locker room soon embraced him and it wasn't long before Isles' rooters followed suit.
Perhaps it had something to do with his performance on the ice.
The Russian netminder finished out the year a bit early, going down with a "lower-body injury," but he sure was effective up until that point. Nabby posted a record of 19-18-3, including a pair of shutouts. He sported a 2.55 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.
That 2.55 GAA might not be overly impressive, but keep in mind that Nabokov did not have a very good defense in front of him (we'll get to that later).
For the first time since, dare I say it, Rick DiPietro (in his prime), the Islanders have a goalie who can steal hockey games. Nabby did that on a handful of occasions in 2011-12.
Honestly, there's no way he'd have re-signed unless he was told the starting job would be his next season and, with Nabokov in goal from the outset, perhaps the Isles can win more games and jump out to a better start this time around.
Having certainty in net is a huge factor for any team and that's exactly what Nabokov provided for the Islanders down the stretch.