I know this is a bit late, the news of Nabokov's departure is far from..... well, news. But never the less I still would like to say my goodbye's to Nabokov on Fannation.
It's been a great 10 years. I can hardly remember a time when the Sharks were without you between the pipes. Despite having some of the worst defenses in the NHL in front of you up until the last few seasons of your tenure with the Sharks, you've been one of the best goalies in the NHL during that span. Your regular season performances have to rank amongst the best of any goaltender in the league during your time with us.
But to be frank, that's about all I can say. The relationship you had with the fans here, was similar to the way Philly fans felt about Donovan McNabb. You were probably the best we had at your position in the franchises history, and perhaps we didn't appreciate you enough, but in the end, you never brought us to the promised land anyways.
Your 40-38 record in the postseason is far from impressive. You've made nobody goalies such as Dwayne Roloson and Jonas Hiller and Antti Niemi household names through your inability to outperform them when it matters.
But who could ever forget your save against the Dallas Stars and your performance in game 6 of the 2008 Western Conference Semis? Just when it seemed like all was lost, you slid across the crease and robbed Brendan Morrow's one-timer, game winner in the 3rd OT. But in the end, it never even mattered. In the 4th OT you let a simple cross crease pass get away from you and it was tapped in for the game winner, another heartbreaking loss for yourself, your organization, and your fans. To me, that game was a microcosm of your career with the Sharks. You played great, and you came so close to eternal glory, yet so far.
The closest you ever got the Sharks to the Stanley Cup was a game 6 loss to the Flames in the 2004 Western Conference Finals. After that, it was this past season vs the Hawks. And lets be honest, if one had to blame just one player for that brutal sweep this season, it would be you. For God sakes Evgeni, your team scored the first goal of the game in 3 of the 4 games during the series. As well all know, you couldn't hold the lead even once.
But it hasn't been all bad as I'm making it sound Evgeni. As I said, you gave Sharks fans 9 (out of 10) incredible regular seasons to remember. 82 games worth of excitment, 9 times.
In the end Evgeni, letting you leave had nothing to do with your ability as a goalie, but everything to do with your lack of ability to beat goalies who made less than 1/2 of what you make when it matters.
I just want to thank you for all you've done for this organization. And in spite of the many bad things I had to say about you above, your still the unquestioned greatest goalie in Sharks history, and one of the organizations top 3 players of all time.
We'll miss you Nabby.
The (majority of the) Sharks Fan Base