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.
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.