Evgeni Viktorovich Nabokov is a renowned former ice hockey goaltender who played for numerous teams throughout his career. He is best known for his long stint with the San Jose Sharks. What do you know about this famous netminder besides his life on the ice hockey pitch?
The former hockey player was born on 25th July 1975 in Kazakhstan. He was the only child of Victor and Tatyana. His father was an ice hockey player with the Russian and Kazakh teams. His mother, on the other hand, was an engineer at a local factory in Kazakhstan. Evgeni Nabokov began playing ice hockey at a tender age taking up the same position as his dad.
- Full name: Yevgeni Viktorovich Nabokov
- Date of birth: 25th July 1975
- Place of birth: Oskemen, Kazakhstan
- Age: 44 years
- Profession: Goaltending coach, former ice hockey player
- Zodiac: Leo
- Spouse: Tabitha Eckler
- Children: Two
- Height: 183 centimetres
Childhood and early career
Evgeni began to play hockey for his local hometown team known as Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk, from 1991 to 1994. He was then spotted by Tim Burke, the San Jose Sharks scout, and drafted in the 1994 National Hockey League draft. He then joined HC Dynamo Moscow for three seasons until the end of the 1996/1997 season.
After helping the team get to the final of the European Hockey League, Evgeni was contacted by the San Jose Sharks, who wanted his signature and a move to North America. At first, the player was reluctant to move away from Russia but later decided to go along with it. After moving, his performance dropped, and for a while, he considered moving back to Russia.
After meeting his wife Tabitha, Evgeni decided to stay and focus on refining his playing style.
Before retiring, the renowned netminder had risen to the pinnacle of ice hockey in North America. Here is a look at some of the moments and highlights that defined Nabokov’s career.
Short-lived Kazakhstan career
Despite being born in Kazakhstan, the only Evgeni Nabokov Kazakhstan hockey appearance was in 1994 during the Group C matches at the World Championships.
The famous Evgeni Nabokov goal
On 10th March 2002, the player became the first and only goaltender in the National Hockey League to score a power-play goal. Known as the Nabby goal, it is arguably one of the biggest Evgeni Nabokov highlights in his career.
No other goaltender since then has managed to score into an opponent’s net. Evgeni is also the only European goalie to every shoot and score.
In 2006, the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) allowed Nabokov to represent Russia in the year’s Winter Olympics. The Evgeni Nabokov Olympics performance was outstanding. He played seven games, won four, and got three shutouts as Russia finished in the fourth position. Two years later, Nabokov helped Russia beat Canada to the World Championship title.
Nabokov began the 1999/2000 hockey season with the Cleveland Lumberjacks, an affiliate team to the San Jose Sharks. After 20 games, he joined the Sharks as an assistant to Steve Shields. In the 2000/2001 season, Nabokov astonished many people, admirers and critics alike when he finished the season with a .915 save percentage.
He was the first goaltender since Martin Brodeur to win the coveted Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. Additionally, he was the only Russian hockey player to ever win the trophy in the NHL. Five times in his career, he was among the top five contenders for the Vezina trophy.
Before his retirement, Nabokov was the 18th player in terms of career league wins with 353.
The Islanders feud
In 2011, Nabokov signed for the Detroit Red Wings. However, since he had to be placed on a waiver, he was claimed by the New York Islanders, who, at that time, were among the worst teams in the league. During the short-lived Evgeni Nabokov Islanders career, the player sat out the remaining part of the 2011/2012 season.
Playing for more than five teams
Throughout his long-running career, Evgeni Nabokov played for several teams. These include:
- Saint Petersburg
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- New York Islanders
- Metallurg Magnitogorsk
- HC Dynamo Moscow
- San Jose Sharks
- Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk
In February 2015, the player retired from competitive sports with the San Jose Sharks. Evgeni Nabokov coming out of shark was quite an emotional affair. In the announcement, Nabokov was grateful to his coaches, teammates, and his spouse. Before this, the player had quit international competitions a few years before.
Evgeni Nabokov quotes
The celebrated former goaltender will always be remembered for his exploits on the pitch and his words off the pitch. Here is a look at some of Evgeni’s quotes.
- "I know how much this area loves hockey, and I know how much people wanted us to come back. They want to watch us compete every night, and that's what's awesome about this crowd. Hopefully, they'll come every night and keep it up".
- "We've got to throw this one out of the window and forget about it."
- "We just have to climb, climb, climb, and build that toughness. And right now, it's more the mental toughness we need to build".
The Evgeni Nabokov helmet was quite popular due to the artwork on its sides. During his tenure with the Sharks, his fellow goaltenders, Thomas and Dimitri, all had varying artworks on their helmets. Nabokov’s helmet featured a sea creature holding a small fish.
The current Evgeni Nabokov net worth is estimated to be $4.425 million. Much of this comes from earnings made during his career as a hockey player as well as the current income as part of the San Jose Sharks coaching team.
There is not much information about the former player’s properties, but the Evgeni Nabokov house is located in San Jose, California.
Family, coaching, and life after hockey
Who is Evgeni Nabokov wife? Her name is Tabitha Eckler. The two met a short while after Nabokov began playing in North America. At the time, she was a part-time waitress and student in college. The couple got married in 2001 and was blessed with two kids, a daughter in 2001, and a son in 2007.
What is Evgeni Nabokov doing now?
After his retirement, the San Jose Sharks announced that Nabokov would serve as the goaltending special assignment scout and development coach. His new role involved working closely with all of the Sharks’ potential goaltenders and assist in their development. A few years later, he was appointed as the netminding coach.
What team is Evgeni Nabokov in?
He is with the San Jose Sharks but not in the position of a player. In December 2019, the head coach and his assistants were fired from the team, thus creating several vacancies. Nabokov was chosen to head the goaltending department under the interim coach, Bob Boughner. He holds the position till now.
Evgeni Nabokov height and other body measurements
The former player weighs 92 kilograms and stands at a height of 183 centimeters (6 feet 0 inches).
Evgeni Nabokov is undoubtedly one of the most prolific former hockey players to ever play in the NHL as well as Russia. He will probably be best remembered for the Nabby goal. It will be interesting to see him bringing up other goaltending talents in the NHL.