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My Nabokov Piece on



A little treat today….

New, for DEADSPIN: Evgeni Nabokov is being a bitch.

Yes, that’s right, Deadspin – the site that has come to be known for getting their hands on Brett Favre’s penis…or something like that.

Seriously though, I’ve been an avid reader of this site (the only two icons in my favourite’s toolbar for a long time were Deadspin and Puck Daddy), and am honored to be able to contribute there.  So thanks to them for the opportunity.

For those of you who know the site, you know what to expect from my column: some profanity, and a hard-line opinion.  Thus, my recommendation is this: if you like when I post kitty pictures and prefer when I put asterisk’s in my profanity, don’t go read this piece.  MOM, THAT MEANS YOU.

Hope ya’ll enjoy (and as always, if you do, don’t be afraid to let ‘em know).


Also, if you didn’t see it, you can check out episode two of Hockey Unfiltered with myself and Todd Lewis here

Also, if you didn’t see it, I wrote a “what we can learn from Gretzky” post in honor of his 50th birthday today for Hockey Primetime, which you can read here.  Mom, this one and the one below are acceptable reading.

Also, if you didn’t see it, my piece on the ASG Draft why it’s going to be funny for USA Today.


 Let’s be honest – that’s plenty of hockey reading material for today – not a whole lot left to comment on (feel free to send me emails if there is something you want me to touch on, maybe I’ll do a mailbag style post).

In other news, tomorrow is Brianna’s birthday, meaning she is officially out of the one month period of the year where she gets to tell people we’re the same age, and back into “cougar” territory.  (“we were born in the same year!,” she always argues.)

Should be another fun weekend – probably going to a hit a movie of her choice tomorrow (gag), and hit Nate’s on the weekend.

I plan on being around to post tomorrow, and I’ll report on the other big news of the day: tonight is the rec league finals….. aren’t you nervous for me?

Anyway, let me know…  What did you think of the Deadspin piece?


32 Responses to “My Nabokov Piece on”
  1. HockeyPhool says:

    Well, are you glad you got it out of your system?

    IMO you’re a better writer than that. Fundamentally I agree with your argument in the piece, although I think you’re inviting a lot of the same vitriol by comparing your career choices to Nabakov’s. Regardless of his shortcomings he *was* good enough to hold down a starting goaltender’s job in the NHL.

    I think there are plenty of people around the Intarwebs who do nothing but rag. Your writing shines when you combine your insider’s perspective with your sense of humor. I think that’s where you’ll grow the most.

    My $.02, and rest assured I’ll keep reading your work.


  2. jtbourne says:

    Hockeyphool – Hey, point taken, thanks for the constructive criticism. I certainly don’t intend to take cuts at people for a living, I just genuinely do think he’s being crappy in all of this. And I hope people understand I’m calling myself middle-of-the-road at my level, and not implying we’re anywhere near the same plane. Appreciate the two cents.

  3. HockeyPhool says:

    You’re welcome, and I’m really glad you took my comments the way I intended them.

    I agree – Nabby should man up and play his best for the Isles. Whether the waiver system works or should be changed in a different discussion.

  4. HockeyPhool says:

    *is* a different discussion!

  5. Deirdre says:

    I hate this because I’ve been a huge Nabby fan forever. Playing for the Isles is still playing in the NHL – and living in NY can be kind of awesome.

    According to something I read part of his reason for wanting to leave Russia is that his family (specifically his kids who’d spent their entire lives so far in the US) said they couldn’t hack living there. So if he wants to be playing, and he wants to be in the US…what’s his problem?

    H*ll Cheechoo is playing in Worcester in the AHL, the guy was the NHL leading scorer a few short years ago, but he understands that’s not where he is now and is playing where he can. Nabby needs to man up.

    Plus, hanging up on Garth Snow is just rude.

  6. jtbourne says:

    Agree all around Deirdre, and yes, Cheechoo deserves muchos praise for that.

  7. Neil says:

    Nice piece. Judging from the comments, there definitely seems to be the impression that you’re suggesting you and Nabokov are in the same tier of hockey value, but considering your clarification above I see what you’re getting at.
    Man, I’m pumped to see you take this stance on Nabokov because it’s exactly how I feel and I really don’t understand why so many people are saying things like “What the hell was Snow thinking?” or “Snow is making himself look like an asshole” or “I feel bad for the guy, he wanted to go to Detroit and Detroit wanted to sign him”.
    I don’t believe for two seconds that Nabokov wasn’t fully aware of the legalities involved and the potential to be sent somewhere other than Detroit. I’m sure he knew that shitty teams would have higher spots in line. Therefore, he went in and signed a contract while thinking to himself “If the wrong team picks me up, I’ll just refuse to live up to the responsibilities I am currently in the process of saying I will live up to in this contract that I’m voluntarily signing”. If you aren’t willing to play for other teams, then don’t agree to go on entry waivers. And why did he leave the NHL in the first place? MONEY. So this guy is a multi-millionaire, left the league because he wanted 6 million a season and no one thought he was worth that, then comes back within the first season and gets upset because he can’t jump onto a top 5 team in late January for a quick cup run at the league minimum so a capped out Red Wings team can sign him. Gimme a break. As I understand it, this kind of thing is exactly why the league made this rule about guys playing in other professional leagues, and I think it’s working pretty well.

    Plus, as I see it, Snow traded a 10k car (that he was going to lose in a couple months) for a motorbike, then managed to get the same car for 1k a month later. Now he has a car, 9k, and a motorbike. Bad GMing? If you say so. Worst case scenario is the whiney goalie refuses to report, in which case he can sit on his rights and trade him at the end of the year and still come out ahead. Snow comes out ahead, Holland comes out even, Nabokov comes out looking like a prima donna. jmo!

  8. jtbourne says:

    Glad you agree Corbett. I desperately want to change that last line for the fear of the misinterpretation, but that’s not an option at this point. Ah well. I shall explain, explain away.

    But yeah, what is a guy like Snow to do, sit around and as a “courtesy” let someone who can be an asset to him go by? What is this, house league? It’s a competitve sport and he did the right thing – as opposed to that goalie fella.

  9. ms.conduct says:

    If one month is cougar territory, I’m screwed.

  10. jtbourne says:

    Haha, it’s ELEVEN months. She might as well be a hundred.

  11. Freddie says:

    Well played, sir. Islander fans are already dealing with an incredibly shitty team. This is like a thumb in the eye to those fans AND Nabby’s potential teammates. How many kids are in the minors who would give their left nut to play one shift in the NHL?

    Garth Snow got it right. He did a great job in suspending Nabokov, which had to sit well with the guys who are grinding it out in both Uniondale and Bridgeport. Everyone gets the same treatment, even a so-called premium sieve.

    Detroit fans may suffer short term with goalie woes. Adding a goalie with this mindeset would have killed them for the season. I’d rather see Joey Mac letting the occasional softie in, because Joey Mac also played his ass off for the Islanders in the past and never showed anything but professionalism.

    Textbook example of how to make one’s self unemployable. And from a journeyman such as yourself, a great look into what sacrifices are required to make a dream come true, even for a short time. Congrats on the article!

  12. Sherry says:

    Just read all three articles – I think all are very good. The Deadspin piece was entertaining, tho’ a little off-putting for me just because it didn’t “sound” like you (less thoughful and even handed than usual, but you got out ahead of that with your caveat above). The fact that you can write effectively in different voices to target different markets is something you should be proud of as a “novice” writer.

    As for Nabby – like Lily said about the dog [statue] in the park…

    And how about them Isles last night!? They played the Pens *tough*! I was glad we got the win (and Flower finally got a shutout), but those guys showed a lot of heart. Just going to make me root even harder for them when they’re not playing my team.

  13. Alix in SJ says:

    I couldn’t comment on the Deadspin article (I wasn’t giving Gawker my info after their security hack a few weeks ago), so I’m glad I can do so here.

    I can understand your point of view on the Nabokov thing, but I don’t think the argument is valid–not because of being a different caliber of player, but at different places in your careers.

    My impression, from having been reading your blog and articles now for nearly two years, is that your choices that last season were from the perspective of someone still at the beginning of your career, wanting to do anything and everything possible to stick.

    Nabokov isn’t coming from that place. He’s done his time. He’s made his millions. He was very clear when he left the NHL for the KHL that it wasn’t about just playing, it was about where. He’s 35, and all he wants is a Stanley Cup.

    There’s the other factor mentioned: his family. His family didn’t go to Russia with him. He found he didn’t want to live apart from them; the words Sharks play-by-play guy Drew Remenda quoted as “he missed his family desperately”. If he’s going to play somewhere else in the NHL, he’d be leaving them in San Jose, so I think, for him, he needs to have a really good reason to do so, and ‘just playing’ isn’t it. I think playing for a chance at the Stanley Cup is the only reason he’d be looking to play.

    His situation, therefore, is different than yours, or even Jonathan Cheechoo’s as mentioned in another comment, because Cheech is more in the prime years of his career (31-32) and trying to catch on somewhere.

  14. ms.conduct says:

    I suck at math. Or maybe you suck at explaining birthdays. Yeah, I’m gonna blame you, since you’re Mister Deadspin now. (No really, that’s pretty cool.)

    If 11 months is cougar territory, I’m screwed.

  15. Neil says:

    If Snow hadn’t taken him, some other GM would have, and the media would have a mike in Snow’s face asking “Why didn’t you take Nabokov considering your goalie and cap situations?” I’ve already heard journalists online wonder why Edmonton didn’t take him. There are always disagreements about various issues and I can usually appreciate where people are coming from even if I don’t agree with them. In this case, I don’t understand how anyone can blame Snow for anything. Some people have suggested that Snow should have called Meehan to see if Nabby was willing to play for NYI, but I dunno….. Meehan made a statement to the media saying Nabby would play for anyone. Plus, if you call Meehan and he says “Nabby won’t play for you”, you’d be well within your rights to say “tough shit, he signed a contract and if he refuses to play, I’ll sit on him for the rest of the season and trade his rights for a pick at the end of the year”. It’s a business, you may not like it but there are rules, and strategy is based on trying to use these rules to your advantage. Some guys on TSN were suggesting that this has made Snow look bad to other GMs or other players but I really don’t see why it would.

  16. Sherry says:

    If 11 months is cougar territory, I’m exponentially screwed… :)

  17. MIke says:

    I thought the Deadspin article was an interesting read, and some of the comments were actually kind of funny. I like the angry, smashmouth Bourne!

  18. jtbourne says:

    Mike, it goes to show how “buddy at a bar” the dialect is, and I know you tend to enjoy that set-up too! I’ll write something a little more beautiful tomorrow.

  19. Steve C. says:

    Maybe Nabby doesn’t need the job as bad as we want him to. If he plays for the Isles and his record/stats go in the trash because of the sieve/crappy team combo (entirely possible JTB) his marketability for next season takes a hit. He’s got the money to pass and go job-shopping next year. Remember it’s a business not a sport.

  20. Neil says:

    Steve – Maybe, but if he refuses to play, he’s not necessarily UFA next year, the Isles could still have his rights for another season if the NHL agrees with their position (i.e. that he owes them a year and never gave it to them). After this year though, they can trade him without having to put him through waivers again Snow could snag a decent pick or prospect from someone next season even if Nabby never puts on and Isles sweater.
    I definitely agree that it’s not a great fit for Nabby, I don’t t blame him for not wanting to play there (in the same sense that I don’t blame Bourne for not wanting to go play in Boise). And you’re right, if he looks like crap in NYI it hurts him next year. I agree with all of that. But the question is, is he in a legal position to say “sorry, not going”? Can he refuse to go without violating a contract that he presumably signed in good faith, knowing this could happen? I gotta figure the answer to both of those questions is “no”, for exactly the reason you mentioned: it’s a business. His agent works for the biggest rep. agency in the NHL, he almost certainly knew what he was doing and I gotta figure he signed that deal knowing that if he didn’t get what he wanted, he’d violate it. I suppose some people will say “yeah, so what?” but I think that’s a shitty way to act, as a person and as a businessman.

  21. Steve C. says:

    Neil – all good points but correct me if I’m wrong…didn’t he sign a contract with Detroit? I’ve not actually read the contract, so I’m not sure if there is language in there that states he is in “Legal” violation if he doesn’t report to any team that claims him on waivers. He may be in violation of the “League” rules but, I believe he would have to had signed a contract with the Isles to be in legal violation.
    …and no, I don’t think the Isles automatically get the rights to him next year. I believe they have to petition the League to grant them that position. So he may currently be free & clear both with the NHL and the courts.
    Either way, I agree this doesn’t look good on his resume, but he is 35 with cash in the bank

  22. liverning says:

    While I find it curious that Snow is in the market for a keeper just a month after dealing Roloson, Naby is going to have to put on his ‘grown up pants’ here, take the thumb out of his mouth and report to the Isles. Its not like he was playing lights out hockey when he last had NHL action (and his play in the Olympics didn’t help him either)…
    Play out this season, try to re-establish some puck-stopping ability, and play on the team you want next season…
    Its what we ‘big’ kids call looking at the big picture…
    Justin, good luck in your finals. Hope the brews after are especially tastey.?. tastie.?. tasty.?. (crap!)… satisfying.

  23. Neil says:

    Yeah you’re right Steve, “legal” might not be the right word when we’re talking about the CBA. At the same time, I don’t know much about this… can a team sue a player in court for violating a contract? I have no idea.

    Yes, I’m assuming he signed a contract with Detroit, but a stipulation of that contract was that his rights would belong to anybody who took him off waivers, and I haven’t heard or seen anything that suggests he didn’t understand this. I don’t think people should pick and choose the parts of a contract they plan on abiding by, particularly if they want their word to mean something. I suppose I can appreciate the argument that if Nabokov wants to refuse to report and accept the consequences of that then maybe it’s a business decision that reflects on his professional reputation rather than his personal reputation. But I think that same argument could be used to defend someone who purposely violates business regulations because they figure it will cost them less to just ignore the law and use lawyers to make an out-of-court settlement. At a certain point, people are going to point out, correctly, that contracts with you might not mean the same thing as contracts with most other people.

    I agree, I don’t think the Isles automatically get his rights either.

  24. MattyJ says:

    Not many hit movies out in January, and not many ‘chick’ flicks. The King’s Speech is good. True Grit has a strong female lead, but you’d be hard pressed to convince anyone that it’s a chick flick. If she wants to see Blue Valentine, save it for after the birthday. Not exactly an uplifting movie. Thoroughly depressing, in fact. I hear Friends With Benefits is better than people expected, but you couldn’t get me to see that with a borrowed set of eyes. Ashton Kucher is face-punch material in any medium.

  25. Christianson10 says:

    In my opinion Justin, I liked the deadspin piece. But the ignorant fucks that read blogs there have nothing fucking good to say and would rather slander you then actually read and converse on the writing. “Justin is a hack…how dare he compare himself to a pro.” Any dogshit fan base like that doesn’t deserve good fucking writing. Fuck em’

  26. ibeentired says:

    I don’t know.
    I can appreciate the colorful language in your personal blog space and twitter. But when it’s a piece that’s published, the cursing just feels like it’s dumbing down your points. Granted it seems you were writing to the deadspin audience (just guessing, I have never read anything there before), but, like some one already mentioned, it just seems like fodder for slander against you than anything that drives the article.

    Regardless, I enjoy your perspectives and I am sure you want to get as many pieces out there as you can. So more power to you Justin.

  27. jtbourne says:

    ibeentired – what’s interesting is, sadly, the Deadspin piece is more how I actually talk to my buddies than the tidier version I put out on websites that don’t approve of that stuff. That said, I was conscious to chuck some language in there, so maybe that’s not a good thing.

    My blog on this site today should be interesting if I have the time, I have a lot to say about yesterday’s learning experience. Check back in.

  28. KickSave1980 says:

    I can understand why Snow submitted the waiver claim on Nabby, but I can also understand his reasonings for not reporting. What can Nabokov do for the NYI? That team is so dysfunctional that it’s ridiculous. Again, I understand why they claimed him because he *is* a good goalie. At the same time, he’s earned the ability to say ‘no’ to teams.

    I always enjoy your work, Justin, but I don’t understand why so many people are insistent that the Sharks never won anything because of Nabokov. It’s ridiculous. They never won anything for two reasons: 1- They overplayed Nabokov in the regular season every year for the better part of a decade; 2- That team is overrated. It’s hard to point the finger at the goalie when 3/4 of your offensive ‘superstars’ forget to show up in the playoffs.

    (and no, I’m not a Sharks fan)

  29. Sioux in the Cities says:

    Really liked both the Deadspin and the All-Star Game articles. I’ve been pumped up for this All-Star draft for a while now because it could be……….epic.

  30. RewskiUVA says:

    The Deadspin article was outstanding. You should put out more pieces like it. It reminds me more of your earlier writing for Bourne’s Blog and what got me to add it to my daily-read list.

  31. RewskiUVA says:

    also, KickSave1980, I’m not trying to be a smart-ass but: “what can Nabby do for NYI?” He can fuckin play hockey for a living , that’s what. He has a dream job and gets paid millions of dollars to play a sport that most of us pour the money we earn elsewhere into to play. If he swallowed his pride, he might even be able to play a part in resurrecting the NYI club over the next few years. Otherwise, if that’s not what he wants, he should just retire.

  32. KickSave1980 says:

    RewskiUVA: I can respect that sentiment, and usually that’s where I’d fall on something like this. Let me ask you this, though: how do you feel about guys with No-trade clauses? That’s essentially the same thing. I think it’s safe to assume that the Islanders are on the majority of no-trade lists. Should those guys retire? We’ve been hearing about a resurrection with the Islanders for 15 years. I hope they can do it because I hate to see any team down for that long, but color me shocked when management fucks it all up…again.

    I can see both sides of this to an extent. I still hate Pronger for what he did to Edmonton, and I hate Heatley for what he did to both Atlanta and Ottawa, but I don’t see any comparison there with Nabokov.

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