Nabokov Loses Out On The Salt Lake Bid

By Jake Dole
Late on Wednesday, January 30, 2002, Evgeni Nabokov’s appeal to play for team Russia at the Salt Lake Olympics was denied by the Arbitration court in Laussane, Switzerland.
Nabokov’s eligibility has been in doubt ever since the IIHF disallowed his request to don the Russian jersey. Evgeni was a back-up goaltender with Kazakhstan at the 1994 Olympic games in Lillehammer. However, Nabokov and Russia’s General Manager Vyacheslav Fetisov decided to appeal the decision, challenging IIHF’s guidelines as a result.
The IIHF’s rule stated that players participating with one country when over 18, cannot suit up for another. To Russia’s chagrin, that ruling was made after Nabokov’s stint with Kazakhstan’s Olympic squad.
Nabokov, an All-Star and the NHL’s Calder Trophy winner last year, will monitor Russia’s success in front of the television set, as all the pressure will be placed on the overworked shoulders of Nikolai Khabibulin.

Now What?

The Russians will have to name a third goaltender to accompany Khabibulin and Egor Podomatsky. Montreal Canadiens’ future hopeful and former Superleaguer Vadim Tarasov could be the leading candidate for the position. Veteran Mikhail Shtalenkov and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks prospect Ilya Bryzgalov will also be considered.
No matter which goalie will be picked, Podomatsky (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl) is the clear choice for the back-up role. Enjoying an excellent year in the Russian Superleague, Egor has emerged as a clutch performer and a fan favorite.