Alexei Yashin was (and still is) a skilled hockey
player, but his legacy in the NHL won't be his play as much as his frequent decision not to play.
CBCSports.ca wants to wish a happy birthday to athletes and others involved in sports who left a lasting
legacy on their game. Today is the 39th birthday of Alexei Yashin, a hockey player that may be remembered less for his ability to play than for his frequent decisions not to play.
It's hard to think of another hockey player that generated so much
ill will from NHL fans without committing some sort of embarrassing
on-ice display. Alexei Yashin was (and still is) a skilled hockey
player, but his legacy may be his off-ice actions.
Let's start from the beginning.
Yashin was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in their expansion year, selected second overall in 1992. After spending a year playing in Russia, Yashin joined the Senators in 1993, which happened to be the same year that highly touted draft prospect Alexandre Daigle was chosen by the Sens with the first overall selection.
Yashin went on to score 337 goals and tally 781 points in 850 career NHL games, including this three-goal, two-assist performance during his rookie season:
Daigle, meanwhile, may be remembered best for ads in which he appeared dressed as a female nurse.
So, there's that.
Perhaps Daigle's record-setting entry contract of five years, $12.25 million had something to do with Yashin's series of contract holdouts that ultimately led to him sitting out the entire 1999-2000 season.
Yashin returned to the Senators the following season and put up an 88-point performance (yay!) but also pulled the plug on a $1-million donation to the National Arts Centre (boo!). That combo was enough of a mixed-review to earn Yashin a ticket out of town... to play for the New York Islanders.
For all the aggravation Senators fans felt they endured through the Yashin years, they got a pretty sweet deal when the forward was traded. New York GM Mike Milbury sent a package that included Zdeno Chara and a second-overall pick that year (used to draft Jason Spezza).
Yashin's time with the Islanders was almost as tumultuous as his time with the Senators, with inferences made that he was milking a knee injury. Nonetheless, he was a huge reason why the Isles, after missing the playoffs in the previous eight seasons, secured post-season berths for the next three years.
But as you can see, he was still a target for fan abuse...
Yashin left the Isles after the 2006-07 season for Russia to play in the KHL, but not before he was given a nice parting gift from the Islanders: More than $17 million not to play the remaining four years on his NHL deal.
His rumoured return to the team in 2011 did not materialize, but Yashin has a home in the KHL and still got to victimize NHL players in this exhibition against the Carolina Hurricanes in 2010:
Justin PiercyOriginally from Fredericton, NB, Justin has worked in newsrooms for Astral Media Radio, Brunswick News Inc., the Toronto Star and CTV. But now he's here at CBCSports.ca to report on the sports you care about while also showing you stuff from the internet he thinks you might like.