San Jose

Ex-Shark Nabby in the Playoffs … Guiding Barracuda Goalies

Even though the San Jose Sharks are long gone from the postseason, some familiar faces that formerly roamed the Shark Tank ice are still involved in a race for a cup.

The San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks' top minor league affiliate, is playing in the American Hockey League's Western Conference Final, guided by a couple of legends named Ricci and Nabokov.

In the Barracuda's run up to the Calder Cup Playoffs, goaltender Troy Grosenick was named the top player at his position, and much of the credit could be attributed to one Evgeni Nabokov, the winningest goalie in Sharks history.

"I'm just happy for him that he succeeded this year and that he is in the process of even making the next step," Nabokov said of Grosenick.

Nabokov's role as developmental goaltending coach is still relatively new. It's his second season coaching the Barracuda goalies.

"It's kind of easy; it's kind of natural," he said. "But also, learning a lot."

And the learning curve involves patience.

"I think Nabby expected instant results, and you find out in coaching you don't always get them," Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer said. "Sometimes you've got to ride the wagon a little longer than you want, and it's been a process. But he's done a great job with our goaltending."

Part of the process for Nabokov is liking things he used to dislike during his playing days.

"I never would have thought that I would like to start watching the videos and dissect the certain things, but apparently I do," Nabokov said.

What he doesn't like to do is confuse his pupils.

"I think if you try to tell them what I did or somebody else, it kind of (sends) a mixed message," he said.

So while he tries to steer clear of the past, some of his players don't always let him.

"They're keeping you real in the locker room and reminding me how old I am all the time," Nabokov said. "So, I try to stay away from that. But, anyway, it's been fun."

The Barracuda trail the Grand Rapids Griffins 2-1 in the best-of-seven West final series. Game 4 is 4 p.m. Friday at Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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