1) The N.Y. Islanders have finally released their salary cap anchor Alexei Yashin. Their highest paid player and captain for the past 6 seasons was becoming more and more of a lightning rod for their fans. We're told that season ticket holders were calling/writing in that if Yashin was part of the team in 07-08 that they would NOT renew their season ticket plans.
2) Wang did NOT want to do this, but was basically forced to either eat the contract and sell out his tennis buddy, or face the possibility of an even more empty NVMC this fall just when he wanted to impress Nassau County officials to get his new arena deal consummated. Contrary to some reports we're told the Ryan Smyth Jason Blake impending free agency had NOTHING to do with this decision, but it does give the team about 5 million more in cap space
3) Last month Wang and Yashin initiated a 'trial balloon' of sorts by having Yashin state he'd voluntarily relinquish his captaincy if he were retained. Hard core Islander fans were not swayed by the offer. Knowing that not only was Yashin a huge drain salary cap wise, but had become a locker room problem. Not because he was a complainer(he's actually well liked by his team mates off the ice) but his lack of production and apparent desire have become increasingly evident. To the point that Coach Ted Nolan benched the Russian on several occasions.
4) Now, what happens? Firstly, do NOT feel sorry for Yashin. He's assured of receiving 17 million over the next 8 years. Not a bad golden parachute. Additionally, he still has value as a hockey player. Definitely not at the 7.6 million he was set to receive from the Isles next season, but a team looking to add a center who could potentially score 50-70 points might 'gamble' on Yashin with a 3 year 9 mil deal. Early destination favourites are the D.C Capitals who have a dearth at center. Yashin even played with Cap's star LW Ovechkin at the 2006 Olympics. (Don't look for a return anywhere north of the border!) Yashin is still vilified by Canada for quitting(twice) on the senators, and is widely hated.