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Bettman Takes Long Shot At Yashin's Pact
By Alan Hahn
There has been plenty of criticism in and around the NHL directed at the unprecedented 10-year, $88.9-million commitment the Islanders made to star center Alexei Yashin in August.
It's not so much the dollar amount of the deal, which will start at $6.55 million this season and balloon to as high as $10.4 million by 2007-08. What has everyone around the league in a fit is the length. Especially for a player who sat out the 1999-2000 season demanding a new contract when there was still a year left on his deal at the time.
Yesterday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman joined the list of detractors, saying he wouldn't make a contract of that length.
"I don't understand the Alexei Yashin contract," Bettman said during a conference call with reporters. "I don't understand why it's 10 years, but it's not my team and not my money. Time will tell whether it was the correct move on their part."
Islanders general manager Mike Milbury responded by saying the franchise is "not ashamed of what we've done. We think we got a quality player and a quality person in Alexei Yashin. Time's going to prove that." All they have is time. Yashin's contract, the longest and most lucrative in NHL history, doesn't end until the 2010-11 season, when he'll be 37.
Bettman will likely no longer be the commissioner. The Islanders, they hope, will have added at least one more Stanley Cup to their collection of four from the 1980s. And perhaps they'll be in a new arena.
Bettman made it a point to praise team owners Charles Wang and Sanjay Kumar for making a "dramatic improvement" to the Islanders, a franchise that has been an embarrassing situation for the NHL during the past five years. Yashin, who twice was involved in contract problems with the Ottawa Senators, is someone who has been a public relations nightmare for the league.
Bettman was said to be incensed by Yashin's stance two seasons ago,
when he refused to honor the final year of his five-year deal with the
Senators because he claimed the team promised him a raise if he
After the 1999-2000 season, Yashin claimed he was a restricted free
agent because the term of his contract was up. But a league arbitrator
ruled that he still owed the Senators the final year, worth $3.6
Bettman was asked to explain whether his displeasure with the contract
had to do with the fact that it was given to Yashin or just because of
the precedent it might set around the league. Bettman refused to comment
on either suggestion and said the contract is within the rules of the collective-bargaining
agreement. Most NHL contracts stop at five years. Only Mario Lemieux, Jaromir
Jagr and Mats Sundin
Milbury said there is no reason for all the fuss. Yashin this season
will earn only a little more than double his salary from last season and,
while he'll be the highest-paid Islander, he will be the 20th-highest-paid
Milbury thinks only the term of the contract is original. "It set no
new heights except for longevity," he said. "It was an attempt on our part
to get some credibility that has been lacking with this organization."
Страничка Алексея Яшина на сайте
"Звёзды с Востока"
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