Friday, July 20, 2007

To Russia with love (or not)

So, this is how the rather strenuous relationship between Alexei Yashin and the NHL finally ends, with a disgruntled and bought out Yashin fielding few serious offers as an unrestricted free agent, then packing his bags and signing with the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the Russian Super League. It's been a rather unceremonious end for the former Hart Trophy nominee and Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders captain as his ridiculous 10-year, $85 million albatross of a contract was finally bought out by the Isles following the conclusion of the season.

At Yaroslavl, Yashin will join fellow NHL exiles Igor Ulanov, Alexei Mikhnov, Denis Grebeshkov and, according to the previously cited Candian Press report, former Islanders teammate Randy Robitaille. While it's no myth that Yashin is a soft player known for playoff disappearances and a penchant for backing away from physicality, one wonders how different his profile as a player would be if not for that insane contract. After all, Yashin finished (assuming he does not return to the NHL, which a reported escape clause in his contract with the Lokomotiv does allow) with respectable career totals of 337 goals and 781 points in 850 games and scored 60 or more points during each season in which he played in a total of 60 or more games. Even still, it's fair to assume that the Russian center will not be missed, not by the Islanders (despite a roster that projects to land them in the NHL basement) and certainly not by the National Hockey League.

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