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Islanders Invest $87.5M to Bring Spark to Nassau // Newsday
By Alan Hahn
Alexei Yashin stood before the myriad microphones at the podium for what most likely will be the last contract-signing news conference the Islanders center will have in his hockey career. Yashin, 27, one of the NHL's top centermen, yesterday celebrated an unprecedented 10-year contractual commitment with the Islanders, who are as desperate for a fresh start as their new star player.
"Hope is here at last," a spirited Islanders general manager Mike Milbury said as he handed Yashin an Islanders jersey with an odd-looking No. 79 on the back. Yashin said that he chose 79 because it "looks to me like 19," which traditionally had been his number, but which is unavailable with the Islanders' retiring Bryan Trottier's No.19.
But it's not as if that was the number anyone was really concentrating on. The 10-year, $87.5-million guaranteed deal sets a new standard in the NHL, where there never had been a contract longer or more lucrative than $52.5 million.
Both sides stressed the importance of commitment and loyalty over the fact that Yashin, while well compensated, never will be one of the league's highest-paid players on an annual basis. He starts out this season at $6.4 million, which is a significant but not overwhelming raise over the $3.6-million salary Ottawa paid him last season. The contract balloons to $10 million during the middle years and declines to $6.4 million in the final year, 2010-11.
The past 10 years in Islanders history have been mostly forgettable, save for the 1992-93 run to the Stanley Cup semifinals. The next 10 years will be based mostly on Yashin, who did not request a no-trade clause in the contract.
"Hopefully, I can live up to the expectations that the organization and the fans have put on me," Yashin said to a standing-room-only crowd at the Carltun on the Park Inn restaurant in Eisenhower Park. "I hope to bring the dynasty back and bring the pride back to Long Island."
He is clearly the cornerstone of team owner Charles Wang's plan to turn around the faltering franchise, which went from winning four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83 to missing the playoffs for seven straight seasons since 1995. Interestingly enough, unlike Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks, who this spring was prominently seated with Alex Rodriguez when he signed the shortstop to a record $252-million contract, Wang was not present for yesterday's news conference.
Yashin, a two-time All-Star selection and finalist for the Hart Trophy (MVP) in 1998-99, was the last player left to be signed by the organization, which looks to the opening of training camp Tuesday in Lake Placid. The team's payroll this season will be a franchise-record $32 million, more than double its league-low $15.4 million total from the 1999-2000 season. The $32 million still will fall short of the anticipated league average of $36 million.
"It's really the best time of the year to be a manager," said Milbury, who six months ago was hoping to keep his job. "Hope springs eternal in the fall. Just sit back and watch some hockey. If you're an Islander fan, you have to be looking forward to this season. We're back in business."
Coincidentally, individual-game ticket sales open tomorrow. Milbury said he hopes to sell out "at least half of our games" this season. With Yashin and fellow newcomer Michael Peca, along with talented youngsters such as Brad Isbister and Rick DiPietro, the Islanders might actually become a draw.
"Everybody wants to be a superstar," Yashin said, adding that he would "like to help as much as I can" to promote the team. But, he quickly added, all the advertising and promotions mean nothing without success. "It all goes back to what you do on the ice," he said.
Still, Yashin brings some marquee value if not just himself but also with his girlfriend, model/actress Carol Alt, who was in attendance for yesterday's announcement. Alt, who grew up in East Williston, recently purchased an apartment in Tribeca.
Yashin said he'd like to find a house in Garden City.
He already has found a home on the Islanders' top line, where they haven't had a legitimate No. 1 center since Pierre Turgeon was traded away during the 1995 lockout season as just one of many blunders the organization has made over the past 10 years.
"This is an incredible change of pace," Milbury said of the newfound
excitement surrounding the Islanders. "And an incredible relief."
Страничка Алексея Яшина на сайте
"Звёзды с Востока"
6 июля. Алексей Яшин: "Теперь будет цирк, а не овертаймы"
6 июля. Алексей Яшин: "Теперь будет цирк, а не овертаймы" - Спорт-Экспресс