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Alexei Yashin Signs Lucrative New Contract, Immediately Makes Plans for Next Holdout

Alexei Yashin cleans out his locker right before training camp in preparation for his next contract holdout

27-year-old New York Islanders centre Alexei Yashin, one of the National Hockey League's premier talents, has announced plans for his next contract holdout.

Minutes after agreeing to a contract that will pay him an average of $17.5 million dollars per season until he's 35 years old, Yashin's agent Mark Gandler made the revelation at the same press conference that was called to announce the record 8-year, $140 million U.S. dollar contract between the high scoring centre and the fledgling Islander franchise.

The new deal for the Russian superstar is the largest contract in N.H.L. history and makes Yashin the highest paid player in the league by a margin of $7.5 million a season.

Said Gandler: "Sure, Alexei is the highest paid player in the league right now, but who knows for how long? With the exponential and out of control growth of salaries in today's N.H.L, by 2003 or 2004, there are several players who could pass us, I mean, him, like (Washington's Jaromir) Jagr (Colorado's Peter) Forsberg, or (St. Louis's Chris) Pronger."

"This is not acceptable. We demand the freedom to hold out with impunity."

"We asked for a holdout clause that would guarantee Alexei continue to be paid when…I mean, if he decides to next withhold his services to be included in the contract, but the Islanders organization flat-out refused," proclaimed Gandler while pointing directly at a seemingly dumbfounded Mike Milbury, General Manager of the Islanders, sitting right next to Gandler.

"What's the most inflammatory thing I can say?"
Yashin's agent Mark Gandler at the contract/holdout announcement

Yashin, who endeared himself to the people of Ottawa by holding out on the hometown Senators on three separate occasions during his eight year stay in Ottawa, including the entire 1999-2000 season, was traded to the New York Islanders by the Senators last month amidst a groundswell of fan frustration with the enigmatic star. Before his unceremonious departure from Ottawa, Yashin was widely criticized not only for his contract holdouts, his rescinded donation to the National Arts Centre and his surly disposition in dealing with fans and the media, but also for his annual disappearing act every post-season.

The star player is currently vacationing in Switzerland, a favourite holdout destination, and was not in attendance at the joint contract/impending holdout announcement.

However, reached by telephone in Zurich, Yashin reiterated Gandler's comments.

"You know, Mark is good agent, but his fees are not cheap, y'know, and….I have family to support, so I have to look out for them."

When it was pointed out by a journalist that he has no children, Yashin fell silent momentarily before explaining that he was referring to his 58-year-old girlfriend, retired model Carol Alt.

Yashin with girlfriend Carol Alt

"It's been a while since Carol last had real job and she has expensive taste that I have to….maintain, which is why Mark tells me I have to get the most fair deal all the time," explained Yashin, who also strongly emphasized his undying admiration and respect for the fans of Ottawa.

For his part, Islanders General Manager Mike Milbury rationalized the huge contract awarded to Yashin:

"Everybody's happy, at least for the next six months until somebody signs a bigger contract."

Milbury added: "By this time next year, we should be in holdout mode with Alexei, which will open up some payroll room for us to go after (St. Louis forward) Keith Tkachuk, who will save us even more money when he holds out shortly thereafter."

"Yashin'll be 50 years old before he gets eight seasons in. We gave him such a big deal because we know we won't have to pay very much of it."

Posted on July 27th, 2001

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