March 31, 1998
Yash ready for mad dash
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun
Alexei Yashin spent part of the club's rare off-day washing
his car, but when he returns to practice today at the Corel Centre, it
will be back to business as the Senators try to drive themselves into the
Eastern Conference playoffs.
Sitting in eighth place -- four points ahead of the Carolina
Hurricanes -- the toughest part of the schedule still lies ahead for Ottawa,
with the final 10 games of the season set to begin Thursday against San
Jose at the Corel Centre.
And as Yashin gears up for the stretch, the club's leading scorer
is fully aware the heat will be turned up on him to pick his game up a
notch if the Senators are going to earn a spot in the post-season.
"The good players like pressure, they expect pressure. This is
nothing new for me," Yashin told the Sun yesterday between the wash and
the rinse cycle. "I expect to get the pressure. It's been the same my whole
"When you've got that kind of pressure, it's a good thing. It
means that something is happening and there is something to be excited
about. You want to perform under that pressure because it shows people
you can make the next step.
"Hopefully, it will work out for us. I'll do the best I can do,
but I can't do it by myself. I need my teammates. Everybody has to perform
in their different roles and everybody has to do their part so we can get
to the playoffs."
Yashin, 24, who has 31 goals and 30 assists for 61 points in
72 games this year, isn't going to have the most productive season of his
five-year career, but in some ways he believes this may be one of his best.
While he won't complete his first 100-point season, Yashin has
played well at both ends of the ice, contributed in a leadership role as
an assistant captain and helped Russia win a silver at the Olympics.
Off the ice, his unprecedented $1-million US donation to the
National Arts Centre has earned him plaudits nationwide. It's improved
his image in the community and nobody is calling him selfish anymore.
"I know I haven't got the points that people expect me to get
and people are saying: 'Well, when is going to score 100 points?' I still
feel like I've played better this year than I did last year and I feel
good about it," said Yashin.
"The points? What can can you do? You get the points that you
get. It's tough for me to sit here talking about myself. I can't sit here
and tell you that I'm a great player and a great scorer or stuff like that.
I don't talk that way."
Yashin does most of his talking on the ice, but he was in the
mood to chat yesterday. He has been criticized at times in the past for
a lack of intensity. It goes with the territory of being the highest-paid
player on the team.
He has 14 points (five goals and nine assists) in his last 15
games. That's the kind of production the team is going to need from him
if they're going to make the post-season for the second consecutive year.
"People expect a lot from me and the Ottawa Senators. I know
that. They pay a lot for tickets and they want to see us perform at our
best every night and make the playoffs," said Yashin, who is five goals
short of his career high 35.
"In an 82-game schedule, it's tough, but you have to do the best
you can. It's no different than me going to see an Elton John concert.
I expect him to put on a good show because I paid for the tickets. I don't
care if he has the flu."
He is confident this team will make the playoffs. There is no
concern in Yashin's voice. Unlike last year, the Senators are ahead of
the pack and control their own destiny. Last season, they had to rely on
"We're in a better position than we were last year at this point,"
said Yashin. "We have a good chance. Every year is different. The best
thing for us to do is win our games and then we won't have to worry about
"We'll do the best we can in these last 10 games. They're all
big and they're all important. We want to make the playoffs and we feel
good about getting there. Hopefully, we can get the job done."
The toughest part of the season is ahead for Yashin -- and he's
Thursday, March 12, 1998
Yashin puts on a show
By DON BRENNAN -- A colleague who has seen a number of Senators
games this season was interviewed on the FAN radio station in New York
the other day.
He was asked about the Eastern Conference playoff race.
"I like Ottawa," he said. "They don't beat themselves very often
... and Alexei Yashin, I think, is the most underrated player in the NHL."
You would never know it by talking to anyone who has seen Yashin
during this current homestand. Ever since he donated $1 million to the
NAC, ever since he put on the C, he has been nothing short of brilliant.
People leaving last night's game were shaking their heads in
amazement at the exhibition he put on last night.
It was one of those games in which Yashin very realistically
could have had seven or eight points.
If he keeps this up, the Senators will not have to worry about
their chances of making the playoffs.
And if he keeps this up, everyone around the NHL will soon realize
how good he is.
Saturday, March 7, 1998
The arts enlighten Yashin
By CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun.
The music heard around the household was the mom's favorite because
she was in charge of the turntable.
"Tchaikovsky," said Tatiana Yashin.
That is where Tatiana's son, Alexei, got his first exposure to
the classics, where the seeds of his passion for the arts were planted
and led this week to him donating $1 million to the National Arts Centre.
There are no doubt a lot of people in our community who are proud
of what Yashin did this week. It was a gesture of grace and charity almost
unheard of for a professional athlete.
Tatiana and her husband, Valery, have every right to be proud
and should be given their share of credit for this week's event.
Tatiana took Alexei to Ekaterinberg's famous opera house for
the first time when he was about three years old, she figures.
It became a regular trip, along with younger brother Dmitri,
almost every weekend if they could swing it.
"Drama, musicals, opera, ballet. For my guys, it was very important,"
said Tatiana. "The arts help everybody think about life. Music helps you
to learn about you inside. It helps you to think about your place in life."
As Alexei grew, his hockey talent became evident. He was singled
out to attend a special school (the main subject was hockey) when he was
about 12. Among his classmates was Nikolai Khabibulin, goaltender for the
Tatiana became the person responsible for the kids' cultural
"When the children are that age, they have no experience in what
is important in life," said Tatiana. "Parents must be the light to show
Tatiana and Valery showed the way.
Just how well was evident this week.
Saturday, March 7, 1998
Mr. Nice Guy!
By MARK MILLER -- Calgary Sun
OTTAWA -- The black Mercedes slides into the parking stall outside
the Corel Centre.
Another millionaire athlete arriving for work.
But there is a difference.
The strains of the music escaping as the tinted driver-side window
is raised are not rock 'n' roll or new country.
It is classical.
The incongruity does not end there.
The sunglassed hockey player emerges from the car and walks towards,
not away, from a small group of fans hoping for a glimpse of their hometown
They get more than that.
The player signs their shirts, posters and cards, and engages
in conversation. He smiles and enjoys the encounter. There is no rush to
Alexei Yashin is a study in contradictions.
A millionaire who gives a million away.
A star who does not shun the responsibility.
A Russian starring in a Canadian game.
A 24-year-old with the maturity of someone much older.
Someone young kids can look up to.
By now, the story of his $1-million donation to the National
Arts Centre has been well chronicled. In the 29-year-history of the centre,
a gift from a Russian hockey player is the most ever donated.
It is more than a gesture. It is generosity from the heart.
And the heart of Alexei Yashin is what matters. Alone with a
reporter in his dressing room stall, Yashin laughs off the $1-million donation.
"Oh yeah, it's a lot of money, but I make a lot of money and
it's over five years, so it's not all at once," he says in his defence.
OK, just $200,000 a year. He makes $4 million this year before
"It's not about money, I wanted to give something back to the
city that has made me feel so welcome. And to the kids who can maybe now
see some performing arts for free," he says.
That's right, performing arts.
Yashin's donation is an attempt to turn Canadians onto culture,
not sport. Fine theatre, ballet, classical music ...
"This is a chance to help those people in the arts community
and do something for the people of Ottawa. This donation is just like holding
a golf tournament. The money is just going for a different type of cause,"
he says. "I played in Eric Lindros' tournament last summer. This is no
different than that."
Oh, but it is. It's not giving a few hours of your time -- it's
a significant cheque.
Certainly the charitable donation is a major tax write-off for
Yashin, but there is no need to be cynical about his motives.
Back in Russia, when Yashin was 12 years old and playing for
an elite minor team along with Coyotes Nikolai Khabibulin, his mom used
to take the kids to the theatre. She thought they could benefit from a
Although her son had little time away from hockey, his exposure
to such things had created a love of the arts.
Since he joined the NHL, Yashin has gone to the famed Bolshoi
Theatre in Moscow, been to Broadway in New York and enjoyed many shows
at the National Arts Centre.
It was there that a fund-raiser first suggested Yashin could
help out with a donation. No one ever expected a million.
His parents, Valery and Tatiana, as well as his younger brother
Dmitri, who plays junior hockey in Kanata, have been regular guests.
"I always liked the performing arts, especially in Russia," says
"I miss my homeland and I wish more people from Russia could
perform in Canada. It will help both countries, because Canadians can learn
something special from Russia. It's great when two countries have a great
relationship. Canada-Russia, it's always been like that -- especially in
"It's a great feeling to have this kind of relationship. But
there is more to life than hockey."
And there is.
Yashin seems to know what it is.
His character is not restricted to what he writes in his chequebook.
A couple of weeks ago, Yashin was on a flight in Western Canada with a
number of Canadian Paralympic athletes on their way to Nagano. They recognized
the NHL star. He learned they were on their way to Nagano, where he had
just won a silver medal with Team Russia.
"Igor Kravchuk had a video camera with him in the Olympic Village
and took some pictures of what we did in Nagano," said Yashin, who grabbed
the camera to play back the scenes for the startled Paralympians.
"We showed them the pictures and talked to them. We had a good
conversation. It was great to meet people who we could talk to and put
in a good mood.
"It's very difficult to know sometimes how you can make people
feel by talking to them, but they were happy and I felt a real connection
"I really enjoyed it."
Yashin's emergence as a leading member of the community doesn't
"I've seen him mature as a person since he's been here," said
Senators captain Randy Cunneyworth.
"Yeah, maybe we were shocked a little by how much he donated,
but that's just Alex. He's a guy who cares and that's something that can
set an example not just for young guys here, but people everywhere."
Yashin's agent, Mark Gandler, told the local media there is no
secret to what makes Yashin tick.
"This contribution comes from the heart," he said.
From Russian with love.
Friday, March 6, 1998
Yashin carries Sens' torch high
By CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun.
The changing of the guard on an NHL team is rarely defined by
a single a moment or incident.
It cannot be legislated, as Bob Clarke his protege Eric Lindros
and the rest of Team Canada found out. The players concerned simply know
when it is time for the shift to take place.
The events of last night will not stand as the defining moment
when the reins of the Ottawa Senators leadership fell from one man to be
captured by another, but they certainly signal the evolution is under way
and gaining irreversible momentum.
For the first time in his career as Senators captain, Randy Cunneyworth,
who is the first to unflinchingly admit he has had a season far below his
usual standards, was a healthy scratch.
Alexei Yashin wore the "C" as captain last night and was the
single biggest reason why a team which had many reasons to lose last night
Radek Bonk being arrested for drunk driving and the absence of
Cunneyworth might have been distractions for the Senators last night, but
Yashin, as true leaders do, made sure with his dominating performance there
would be no need for excuses.
"He's got a lot of talent. That's not a question," said Senators
winger Chris Murray, the recipient of a room service Yashin setup for a
3-1 Senators lead late in the second period of what turned out to be a
4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
"It's a matter of wanting to take charge. It's a matter of wanting
to go that extra mile that all great players want to do to make their teams
win. He just needs guys now and then to tell him 'we need something special
from you tonight.' He's a treat to watch on nights like this. He's a young
guy who's still learning to be a leader."
Which brings the Senators to a difficult crossroads.
Cunneyworth's role on this team has increasingly diminished this
season, while Yashin's is in its ascendency.
The respect for him, as a player, as a person, and as a member
of our community, grew tremendously this week with his stunning act of
grace and charity in donating $1 million to the National Arts Centre.
It is that kind of gesture towards his adopted community which
defines character and leadership.
More importantly for this discussion, he is respected by his
teammates for his demeanor in the sanctuary of their dressing room.
"He likes everybody in the room," said Murray, "and for a star,
you don't see that every day."
For those reasons, there is no question Yashin deserves to be
the next captain of this team. The question which must now be answered
by Cunneyworth, Yashin and their teammates is "when?"
"We talked about it. Randy Cunneyworth is still our captain and
still our leader," said Yashin, whose three assists last night earned him
the first star.
Senators coach Jacques Martin does not see any reason to hasten
"There's no doubt (Yashin) is our best player and we need him
to step up. It's encouraging to see the kind of performance he had tonight.
I thought right from the start he took control of the game," he said.
"But I don't think it creates an awkward situation. There's a
good relationship between the two of them (Yashin and Cunneyworth). They're
both really open about it."
Cunneyworth is a proud competitor who has embodied the admirable
qualities you want in a professional athlete. His devotion to his team
is absolute. Which is exactly why last night's events must be difficult
for him to contemplate this morning.
Last night's events raise unavoidable questions.
Is the spur the captaincy seems to provide for Yashin worth more
to the club than the value of having Cunneyworth continue in the role for
the last 20 games of this season?
It's a question perhaps only Cunneyworth can answer.
Tuesday, January 6, 1998
Yashin out of this world
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- For only the second time in team history,
the Senators will have two players in next week's NHL all-star game.
There should have been three.
The Senators were preparing to suit up last night against the
Carolina Hurricanes when the news arrived: centre Alexei Yashin had been
left off the World Team for the Jan. 18 All-Star Game in Vancouver.
While the team selectors made excellent choices in Ottawa defenceman
Igor Kravchuk and injured winger Daniel Alfredsson, the decision to leave
the Senators' leading scorer off the team was mystifying.
Ottawa coach Jacques Martin, trying to keep the club's focus
on the game, and worried what Yashin's reaction to the news would be, elected
not to tell his No. 1 centre until after the game. To his credit, Yashin
took it well.
"I never expect anything before it's done," he said after Ottawa's
4-1 loss. "I just try to do my best. You can't play every day and wait
for things like that. At least, I'll get a week off."
Yashin will play for the Russian Olympic team in Nagano, Japan
next month. His selection to the all-star team was supposed to be automatic.
"I'm surprised (Yashin's) not there," said Martin. "I'm not saying
the guys who are there shouldn't be there, because they're both good players.
(In Alfredsson's case), it's surprising because he's been injured.
"If you're (Yashin), it's a little bit hard to understand. Who
made the selections? Definitely (Yashin should be there). If you look at
what he's done this year, there is no doubt."
Yashin, 24, who has 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points (he
was pointless in last night's 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes), was on the fan
ballot, as was Alfredsson.
This is the first time a team of Europeans will play the North
Americans (Canada and the U.S.A.) in the All-Star Game.
Yashin, an all-star as a rookie in 1994, wasn't among the six
starters selected by the fans. The rest of the roster was chosen by NHL
vice president Brian Burke, with advice from Dallas GM Bob Gainey and Colorado's
Instead of Yashin, the committee opted for Montreal's Saku Koivu,
New Jersey's Bobby Holik and Toronto's Mats Sundin. Colorado's Peter Forsberg
finished No. 1 in the fan voting.
Being included on the team was a surprise for both Kravchuk and
Alfredsson. While Kravchuk is playing 25 minutes a game, Alfredsson skated
for the first time yesterday since breaking his ankle in a Dec. 11 game
against the St. Louis Blues.
Alfredsson, 25, who will be back on the ice again this morning,
went through a one-hour skate pain free. If he can get medical clearance,
he'd like to rejoin the team for a Jan. 13 game at Washington.
Signed to a five-year, $10-million US contract after holding
out of training camp, Alfredsson has played in only 17 games this season,
but has 10 goals and 17 points.
Pretty good numbers.
"I'd like to play one game before the all-star break, but we'll
have to see. I have to speak with doctors because I don't know what the
time schedule is for this kind of thing and I have to get the strength
back," said Alfredsson. "I feel pretty good. There was no pain. There was
a little bit of stiffness. I just went for an hour. I'll go a little harder
tomorrow and I'll take it from there. I'd like to rejoin the team on the
trip and play, but we'll see what happens."
Kravchuk, 31, traded to Ottawa in the off-season from St. Louis,
didn't comment until after the game to show respect for Yashin.
"This is a big surprise to me. I thought it was going to be Yashin
and Alfredsson," said Kravchuk. "I bought my ticket to meet my family in
St. Louis. I'm honored but I didn't expect it."
The last time the Senators had two all stars was their inaugural
season, 1993, when goaltender Peter Sidorkiewicz and defenceman Brad Marsh
were selected to play.
The selections yesterday are indicative the organization has
made a step forward, but the omission of Yashin is disappointing.
He scored the winning goal in 1994 in New York, but won't get
the chance to do it again this year.