"Under the NHL’s current salary structure, there are only so many elite players a team can afford and sometimes something has to give", claimed the SJSharks website, "Due to this situation Sharks will be going forward with a new goaltending situation next year, meaning Evgeni Nabokov, who has held down the top job since 2000, will not be back in teal."
Nabby, as Nabokov is affectionately known as to Sharks fans, has been the face of the organization for over 10 years. Nabokov fought, and defeated, the likes of Vesa Toskala and Mikka Kipprusoff for the job of starting goaltender for the Sharks.
However, the time has come for Nabokov to leave the teal sweater behind.
Evgeni Nabokov has played extremely well during the regular season, but his post season performances can only be described as sub-par.
Nabby has not played terribly in the playoffs, but he has not been able to keep his regular season stats up, or steal games for the Sharks, a certain prerequisite to winning the Stanley Cup.
Also, San Jose currently has their hands full trying to sign the likes of Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi, and Manny Malhotra this off season. The Sharks simply cannot sign everyone and still remain under the salary cap.
However, a great thank you is in order before the Kazakhstan native leaves the San Jose pipes.
Nabakov provided the Sharks with highlight performance day in and day out. He has been a mainstay of this organization.
Nabokov was the first NHL goalie to ever score a powerplay goal. He did so against the Vancouver Canucks on March 10, 2002. Watch it here.
Nabby also made the save of his life against the Dallas Stars during the 2008 Cup run. Watch the brilliant save here.
When the Sharks eventually lost that game to the Stars in quadruple OT, only Nabby's save could placate the broken-hearted Sharks' fans.
Some San Jose fans will feel emotionally devastated at Nabby's departure from the Sharks. Others will be excited at the opportunity for a new goalie to take the reigns and possibly drive the Sharks to the Cup.
Either way, Evgeni Nabokov has accomplished a decade's worth of hard work for the Sharks, and must be thanked. Nabby was a brilliant goaltender, and I wish him the best of luck wherever he goes.
Watch a top ten compilation of Nabby's achievements here.