SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Goalie Evgeni Nabokov agreed to a two-year, $7.15 million contract with the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, ending his holdout after five games.
Nabokov, the franchise's career victories leader with 71 over his first two NHL seasons, sat out all of training camp and the first two weeks of the regular season while seeking a dramatic increase from the $575,000 he earned last season.
Without Nabokov and holdout defenseman Brad Stuart, the Sharks have struggled to a 1-4 start. After a dispiriting 5-2 loss to Vancouver on Monday night, the team decided it was time to meet most of Nabokov's demands.
''Who we kidding here? To say that the performance of the team does not factor into the urgency of your analysis is just not being truthful,'' general manager Dean Lombardi said. ''It forced us to do something in our evaluation planning that maybe we would have put off.''
Nabokov's backups, Miikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala, allowed 22 goals in the first five games -- most in the Western Conference. They have a combined 4.77 goals-against average, which ranks next-to-last in the league -- though a series of mediocre performances by the Sharks' defensemen have hurt the team as well.
''It heightened the urgency because of how we're struggling right now, but to pin this start on the goaltending is not fair and accurate,'' Lombardi said. ''There's a lot of factors that go into a 1-4 start. To blame it on the goaltending, that's not realistic.''
Though the sides weren't far apart in negotiations, Lombardi admitted he gave in to Nabokov's desire for a big raise and a relatively short-term contract.
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