VANCOUVER - Sitting by the phone last night, waiting for his latest acquisition to return his call, Garth Snow wasn't sure what all the fuss was about.
Elevating his popularity amongst all contending GMs not named Ken Holland, the Islanders GM insisted he was surprised when waiver pickup Evgeni Nabokov told agent Don Meehan he wasn't interested in a Long Island getaway.
"Why wouldn't he (join the Islanders) - he has a standard players' contract?" Snow asked QMI Agency.
"I'm happy we claimed him, and I look forward to having him here. Our intention is to have him be an Islander and once he gets here we know he'll fall in love with this city and organization."
Snow said he was unsure if he would have made the claim had Nathan Lawson not left the Islanders game Friday night with a knee injury and the chronically injured Rick DiPietro didn't have the flu. Contrary to reports, Meehan said he did not reach out to GMs around the league during the 24-hour waiver period to let them know Nabokov wouldn't report anywhere but Detroit.
So, unless Nabokov can be convinced to play for the league's 29th-place team, the Islanders can't really even trade him as he'd have to clear waivers first with every other team that made a claim for him Saturday getting first crack. They could also waive him outright -- exposing him to all 29 other teams -- but only if he agrees to waive his no-trade clause.
Complicated, indeed, but it all could have been avoided had Snow read Nabokov's comments when he signed with SKA St. Petersburg in August.
"Let me ask you, would you want to play for the Edmonton Oilers, for example?" said Nabokov according to Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo! Sports Canada. "Let me tell you that when you have a choice, you always want to play for a good team, compete for medals and such. I will speak for myself, but the situation was such that I had no choice of a good team to play for and to play at the high level. To me, it was very important to play for a good team, to try to win."
St. Louis Blues president John Davidson is still hot after losing two European players via the same waiver rule and is convinced "anyone reasonable" will agree the "outdated" rule needs to be modernized. He thinks it's archaic the Islanders only had to pay $3,500 in waiver fees to claim Nabokov after the Wings did all the groundwork.
"Anything under $100,000 is a waste of time," he said when asked what the fee should be.
Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk is quick to point out that while there may be some merit to Davidson's idea that only teams lower in the standings can make waiver claims on such European signings, the players' association won't go for it at all.
Either way, it will be a hot topic at the GM meetings in March.
Another hot button issue will be headshots, and Davidson, whose club has been greatly affected by concussions, said the issue needs to be looked at again.
"Maybe one of the rules is that if a player gets coco-bonked and loses consciousness for any period of time, he should leave the game as part of the protocol," he said.
"We need to protect them because they don't protect themselves. I'd hate to see our negligence be responsible for potential danger later in life."
Andy McDonald has been skating by himself for almost a week, and David Perron is finally able to start riding a bike.
Stars on ice
Unlike a few years back, when an injured Sidney Crosby showed up at the all-star game in Montreal as a league ambassador, a source tells me there's no way he'll show up in Carolina this year if he can't play. He'll take all the extra time he can to rest.
Meanwhile, Peter Forsberg's agent is doing his best to keep expectations to a minimum as the 37-year-old skates in Colorado to see if his injured foot will allow him to return to the NHL.
"It was a nothing event -- just a skate with another guy," insisted Don Baizley of the NHL's 2003 MVP.
"He wants to see where he's at because he doesn't know. The only way is to skate with NHL guys."
Those who saw him skate say there's no doubt he'll sign soon despite having more than a dozen surgeries on his foot.
Eric Francis appears regularly as a panelist on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada