Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Isles end Yashin era

"He's been a vital part of this organization. At the end of the day, he played 58 games and had 50 points. Who knows what kind of season he would have had if he didn't get injured? The first two months, he came out like gangbusters, and he couldn't be stopped. We're looking forward to having the same start again next season."
Facing a potential mutiny from Islanders fans, owner Charles Wang bit the bullet and made the decision yesterday to buy out the remaining four years of captain Alexei Yashin's 10-year contract, Newsday has learned exclusively. Some might view it as the owner admitting a costly mistake, but second-year coach Ted Nolan described it as a chance for a "new beginning" that might restore the fans' faith in the franchise.
Just like a lot of hockey decisions made by Wang, this one appears to have been rather spur of the moment, and perhaps motivated by the considerable fan angst in the Long Island era over Yashin's boat anchor of a deal.

The best news for those fans is that the massive, $17.6-million buyout will only cost the team $2.2-million under the cap per season, a relative pittance given the fact the cap appears headed north of $50-million this season.

It's hard to believe, actually, that the move isn't putting Snow and company in a worse position than it is. Based on the "cost certainty" preached when this new collective bargaining agreement was signed, one would think allowances would be made for these sorts of mammoth, long-term deals and the penalty would be considerably higher than the two bits Wang will fork out each season.

This doesn't hurt the Islanders bottom line at all. It helps it, in fact, given Yashin's useless on-ice presence and $7.415-million cap hit from here until he hits the retirement home are off the books.

The word has been that Ryan Smyth wasn't crazy about returning to the Islanders with Yashin as the team's captain, and given Snow forfeited a trio of nice assets for what amounted to 23 games played in Long Island, the organization's going to be in the Smyth bidding right up until the end.

Don't be surprised to see Wang offer a similar mammoth deal to the organization's new prized possessions.

Learning his lesson, in this instance, seems unlikely.

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At 11:32 a.m., June 06, 2007, Anonymous Conrad said...

I don't care how bad Yashin was (and this year he wasn't that bad), Wang is paying $17 million dollars for literally nothing. At the end of a buyout you don't end up with a player, or prospects or anything. Wang is rich, but he didn't get that way by throwing $2M to the breeze year after year. Sure, Yashin was obscenely overpaid considering what he brought to the team, and the cap room will help, but is any player so bad you'd pay that much not to have him? You've got look at this as another silly business move.

At 11:41 a.m., June 06, 2007, Blogger McLea said...

This doesn't hurt the Islanders bottom line at all.

Maybe from a cap perspective it doesn't, but let's keep in mind that they just paid a guy $17.6M to not play for them. I understand the alternative was worse, but $17M is still $17M, regardless of the cap implications, so let's not pretend like the Islanders didn't pay dearly for one of the worst contracts in hockey history.

At 11:41 a.m., June 06, 2007, Blogger PPP said...

North of $50M?! When will the NHL announce next year's cap figure?

At 11:45 a.m., June 06, 2007, Blogger Jeremy said...

I know nobody seems to like Yashin, but I would think that he'd be a pretty intriguing free agent for team in need of some more scoring. At the right price, he could be a great addition somewhere.

At 11:57 a.m., June 06, 2007, Blogger PPP said...

If he took his buyout payment and accepted a very low salary a team might be willing to overlook his playoff disappearing acts for the scoring he provides.

My guess is that he would still expect to be paid like a superstar.

At 12:10 p.m., June 06, 2007, Anonymous snafu said...

I think the Isles had little choice if they wanted to build a better future, and IF Yashin's presence was having a negative effect on the team.

The opportunity cost - that being the inability to compete for players like Smyth, Blake, &/or other top UFA's - is the real key here. The team was just under $41 MM last season, and even with a cap going to $51 MM, they'd still have some tough choices. Why should Wang let a bad decision dictate the team's direction for 4 more years? Other than the money (and only Wang knows if he cares), this is a good hockey decision for the team.

Early reports on NHL revenues are coming in at $2.33-2.36 billion, which if true, means the player share is 55%. Also the NHLPA has the option of invoking a 5% kicker to the midpoint each year to account for growth; and there may be a clause that lets them count the money that starts next year from new deals (e.g., CBC and TSN TV contracts).

At 3:09 p.m., June 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As in poker, once that money's spent, it's spent. Tapping a deadweight Yashin for 25 shifts a game because you want to get your $27M worth makes no more sense than raising a 2-7 because you called the big blind without looking at your cards. Just cut your losses.
The alternative is to go the STL route - where Larry Pleau last year stated (more or less) "this isn't fantasy hockey, this is real money - and hold on to your obviously overpaid players like Tkachuk, Weight, et al. We see how well that's turning out for STL.

At 11:28 p.m., June 06, 2007, Blogger Butpeople said...

You know you put a link to a fan website but that link is not accurate. "Considerable fan angst" takes you to NYIC. Unfortunately that letter was penned by moderator "WittyUserName" at "". You should fix your link and give credit where it is due.


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