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сентября 2005 года.
Hey, Yashin, you're no captain - The Ottawa Citizen
It's unlikely malcontent will be any better wearing 'C' with Isles than with Senators
If you haven't already heard, Alexei Yashin is a different man these days.
You could just tell by the words he uttered yesterday after he was named captain of the New York Islanders.
"This is a big responsibility I take seriously," said Pinocchio, with no sign that the nose of this very wooden guy was beginning to grow again.
There were similar words back in September 1998 when Yashin was named captain of the Ottawa Senators, the team he had already stiffed twice by holding out for more pay even though he was under contract.
There's more, of course, to this history lesson that Islanders general manager Mike Milbury and coach Steve Stirling chose to ignore in making Yashin the franchise's 10th captain.
Eight months after he was named Senators captain and following a pathetic first-round series against the Buffalo Sabres in which the Senators were swept from the playoffs, the man the Senators treated better than Marian Hossa was up to his old tricks. Still under contract for the next year that would have paid him $3.6 million U.S. -- part of a four-year deal negotiated following his second holdout -- he told the team he was entitled to more money even though he had signed a legal document for that piddly amount. When September 1999 rolled around, there was no sign of Yashin, just demands that he be paid more or traded to a team that would give him what he wanted. The emphasis was on being traded even though he kept reassuring us that he held no malice against Senators fans.
Rod Bryden, then Senators owner, held steadfast that Yashin would play under the terms of his old contract regardless of when he came back, and, the following summer, an arbitrator ruled that Yashin had to fulfil his obligations to the team.
A pouting Yashin returned for 2000-01, without the "C" that had been given to Daniel Alfredsson a year earlier, and teased fans with an 88-point season. But he piked in the first round of the playoffs, allowing the Senators to be humiliated and beat up in four straight games by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Conspiracy theorists had a field day, suggesting Yashin deliberately played badly to get one last shot in at the entire Senators organization, which knew it would have to trade this unaffordable, unhappy camper come summer.
What was he like with his old teammates in Ottawa? As captain, he was a disaster, possessing an arrogant demeanour in which he rarely addressed his teammates, kept to himself and didn't really hang around with anyone unless it was fellow Russian Igor Kravchuk. In airport waiting rooms, old Yash would often stand alone, well away from the rest of the team.
Sometimes, when his parents would drive him to Ottawa Airport to catch the team plane, Yashin would remain in the car until it was time to board.
"What do you want me to say?" he would often comment to reporters, more often during that final year in Ottawa. "I'm just trying to do the best for my team and my fans."
Then there was the April 2001 photo taken on the sly by the National Post. The Senators were reviewing video at the Air Canada Centre just hours before they were eliminated by the Leafs in the fourth game of their 2001 quarterfinals series. The players, except for Yashin, clearly had the look of defeat and disappointment on their faces. Yashin looked bored. What's the Stanley Cup, anyway? Truly, l'enfant terrible to the bitter end.
But things have obviously gone better for Yashin on Long Island. The good life started almost immediately with a 10-year contract worth about $90 million. And, as was the case in Ottawa, he was considered the marquee player, someone Isles owner Charles Wang desperately needed to sell tickets and get his team into the playoffs, which Yashin has helped do every year since arriving.
Production has fallen, though, for someone earning the big bucks. He had 75 points in 2001-02, 65 in 2002-03 and a mere 34 in 2003-04 (true, he played only 47 games as a result of a severe arm injury).
Maybe Yashin has matured or maybe he just needed out of Ottawa, where, despite the embarrassment he caused for the team, we still cheered him on during that last season he was here. As well, the new collective agreement that dropped his salary from more than $10 million to $7.6 million for 2005-06 may be serving as a reminder that he has probably hit the limit in pay dirt as a pro hockey player. He'll be 32 in November.
Perhaps Yashin is a different man than when we knew him, but the Islanders didn't have an abundance of talent to choose from, especially after dealing Mike Peca, the old captain, to the Edmonton Oilers in a trade this summer. And maybe the Islanders are hoping a reward like the captaincy will light a fire under Yashin's ass. This guy was supposed to be a superstar, but his numbers as he gets older would tell us that he had better days, back when he was with the Senators. Still, he is filthy rich, so his mission in hockey has been accomplished.
"This is a very big honour for me ...," Yashin said yesterday. "I'm very proud to follow the Islanders captains before me, like Ed Westfall, Denis Potvin and Mike Peca."
What would they say? Especially Potvin. Or maybe his former teammate and superstar Mike Bossy, who, with Potvin, led the Isles to four Stanley Cup championships in the early 1980s.
Sorry, Yash, you're no captain. You proved that in Ottawa.
Hugh Adami can be reached at email@example.com.
Страничка Алексея Яшина на сайте
"Звёзды с Востока"
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