Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Morrison delivers his insights into the world of hockey, on and off the ice.
Islanders were right to buy out Yashin
Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | 11:47 AM ET
By Scott Morrison
Who says money can’t buy happiness?
Charles Wang agrees to write a cheque for $17.63 million to Alexei Yashin just to go away and a lot of people are happy.
Oh, Yashin may be sad his career is over, but the money should put the smile right back on.
Garth Snow, the New York Islanders general manager, suddenly has roughly $5 million worth of new salary cap space with which to find some offence for his team, thus some new-found hope and who can put a price on that?
Ted Nolan, the Islanders coach, will no longer have to endure watching his captain languish on the ice and being forced to make him the world's highest-paid gate opener, so that must be warming the heart.
And the Islanders fans, a small but loyal group, won't have to be frustrated by the under-achieving multi-millionaire. They will have to find another reason for not watching and who doesn't love a new challenge?
It's all good.
Except, perhaps, for Wang, who is losing a friend and that $17.63 million for Yashin to officially not play.
Undoubtedly, the Islanders' decision to buy out the remaining four years of Yashin's 10-year, $87.5 million contract was not an easy one in large part because they are giving away money and conceding that signing a player to a 10-year contract probably isn't a good idea after all, although it didn't stop them from signing Rick DiPietro to a 15-year deal.
Whatever, the hard decision, if it was a hard decision, was still the right decision...at least from a hockey standpoint.
Yashin, who was benched during the playoffs, was a $7.4 million drain to the budget and a nightmare under a salary cap. But by buying him out and spreading it over eight years, the damage is reduced to $2.2 million annually, which gives Snow a fighting chance to improve his team this summer while removing from the bench and the dressing room a guy who, after a decent start under Nolan last season, didn't have a pulse when he returned from injury.
The Islanders, in their published statements, insist having Yashin the previous five seasons, regardless of the whopping cost, was a good thing, essentially because he helped get them back to the playoffs. Indeed, they made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, although they never made it past the first round. Overall, he had 290 points in 346 games, which is hardly the production you expect from a player who pocketed the kind of money he did.
Debate what he gave the Islanders, debate the merits of his contract, but there is no arguing that Wang did the right thing Wednesday when he agreed to buy out Yashin. If not admitting to a mistake, he at the very least fixed a big problem.
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About the Author
Scott Morrison, the recipient of the Hockey Hall of Fameís 2006 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, has been covering hockey for 25 years. The Toronto native began his career at the Toronto Sun in 1979. After spending more than 11 years as a hockey writer and columnist at the paper, Morrison became Sports Editor in 1991 and led the section to being named one of North America's top-ten sports sections in 1999 - the first sports section in Canada to receive the AP Sports Editors North American Award. Scott, a former two-term president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, joined Rogers Sportsnet in 2001 as Managing Editor, Hockey, and is currently both a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada and a columnist for CBC.ca.
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