Alexei Yashin

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New York Islanders

Alexei Yashin (Алексей Яшин) is a hockey player, born in Sverdlovsk, USSR, now Yekaterinburg, Russia, in 1973. He gained fame after being the first ever draft pick of the expansion Ottawa Senators (2nd overall in the 1992 entry draft).

After remaining in Russia for the 1992-1993 season with the Dynamo Moscow, Yashin arrived in Ottawa for the 1993-94 season, the same year as Ottawa's other touted young phenom, Alexandre Daigle. Yashin soon eclipsed Daigle as Ottawa's brightest young star, scoring 79 points in his rookie season and earning himself a nomination for the Calder Trophy.

Subsequent seasons in Ottawa saw him emerge as an NHL superstar, helping Ottawa to make the playoffs for the first time in 1997. In 1998, he scored a key overtime goal for the franchise that helped secure their first ever playoff series victory against the New Jersey Devils.

Yashin was eventually named team captain, and the pinnacle of his career came in the 1999 season when he scored 94 points and was a runner-up for both the Hart Trophy for the NHL's most valuable player, and the Richard Trophy for the NHL's highest goal scorer.

Off the ice, however, Yashin's stay in Ottawa was tumultuous. Several nasty contract disputes developed between Yashin and the team, beginning when Yashin refused to play the start of the 1995-1996 season unless he was given a contract similar to the glitzy contract that the popular Daigle had signed. Tensions reached a high point after the 1998-1999 season, when Yashin refused to honour his contract, which had one year remaining. The team refused to tear up the contract, and Yashin spent the entire 1999-2000 season practicing with a team in Switzerland. While the Senators regressed that year, Yashin turned out the ultimate loser, as an NHL legal panel ruled that he still owed the Senators one more season with the current contract.

In 1998 Yashin had promised to donate a million dollars to the National Arts Centre, the Centre's largest ever donation. When the contract dispute escalated Yashin reneged on his agreement, making him especially unpopular in the city of Ottawa.

Yashin returned to the team in 2000, but the captaincy had been given to teammate Daniel Alfredsson. After the Senators were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was clear that Yashin had played his last game for the Senators.

On draft day, 2001, Yashin was traded to the New York Islanders for Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and the 2nd overall draft selection, which the Senators used to draft Jason Spezza. The Islanders promptly signed the 27-year old Yashin to an enormous 10-year 87.5 million USD contract.

Since joining the Islanders, Yashin's point production has declined. While he helped his new team make the playoffs for the first time in years, the team has been unable to make it past the first round of the playoffs, losing in 2002 to the Toronto Maple Leafs, in 2003 to his old team, the Ottawa Senators, and in 2004 to eventual Stanley Cup champions the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yashin's play has been criticized by fans, teammates and coaches - at one point he was demoted to New York's fourth line.

In the 2003-2004 season Yashin's play has improved somewhat, but on December 23, 2003, he suffered several torn tendons in his right wrist when the skate of Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Handzus cut Yashin's right arm. Yashin missed most of the second half of the season as a result.

Yashin has represented his native Russia in the 1996 and 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics. He has won Olympic silver (1998) and bronze medals (2002).

Yashin is married to supermodel Carol Alt.


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