YASHIN A $7.6M AFTERTHOUGHT
By EVAN GROSSMAN
January 3, 2006 -- All you had to know about last night's Islander
loss was that they were on a power play with less than a minute left
in regulation, down a goal and skating with a 6-on-4 advantage with
Garth Snow pulled after turning in a spectacular night between the
And there was Alexei Yashin, the supposed power-play sniper and the
Isles' leading scorer, sitting on the bench.
Yashin did a lot of sitting again last night as the Isles dropped
their fifth straight, this time 2-1 to the Lightning, with No. 79
reduced to the most expensive spectator in the history of organized
sports. The Isles are reeling, coming apart at the seams, and their
captain has the best seat in the house.
That's right, Steve Stirling, for two straight games now, has turned
Yashin, the Lord of Dogtown, into a $7.6 million bench ornament. He
was grounded for part of the third period in Ottawa for the same
reason he took a seat last night after he was whistled guilty or
not for an offensive-zone hooking penalty early in the final
period. Yashin was skipped twice in the rotation after his infraction
cut short an Islander power play early in the third of a tie game.
"Another stupid penalty," Stirling said. "Everybody else sat when
they took a stupid penalty."
Last night Yashin was benched for the second consecutive third
period. So what's the next step? How is Stirling going to further
hammer home his desperate pleas for discipline that continue falling
on deaf ears?
"You sit them in the crowd," Stirling said, adding that not even the
captain would be above the law if it came to making him a healthy
scratch to get the picture. "I'd do it with anybody if I thought it
were the right thing to do. No one's exempt."
Oleg Kvasha, Mike York and Brent Sopel also spent time on the bench
"Of course I'm frustrated and I wish I could help the team," Yashin
said after Martin St. Louis ripped a short-handed winner on a
breakaway with five minutes left in the game. "I wish something would
go right for myself and my line . . . I just wish something would go
in. I know it's a message to me. Again, maybe it was a penalty, but
it's not like I want to do that. It's not intentional."
Rick DiPietro (knee sprain) did not play last night, but Stirling
said the goalie may resume practicing today . . . Kevin Colley, out
since Dec. 13 with a knee sprain, skated yesterday and may be ready
to go tomorrow against Florida . . . The Isles' penalty-killers, who
had allowed goals in 11 straight games, killed off all eight Tampa
advantages . . . Vincent Lecavalier beat Snow (41 saves) on a first-
period gift penalty shot.
Islanders fall again
BY PETER BOTTE
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
The Islanders were scrambling to score with their goaltender pulled
in the final minute, but Alexei Yashin found himself in an
increasingly familiar position.
On the pine.
Yashin manned the door on the home bench throughout the final seconds
of the Isles' 2-1 loss to the Lightning at Nassau Coliseum last
night. The captain of this sinking ship sat for much of the third
period for the second consecutive game - another ugly night from the
start that ended with the free-falling Isles' fifth consecutive
defeat on a late shorthanded goal by Lightning striker Martin St.
"I'd think so," said embattled coach Steve Stirling, when asked if he
was sending a message to his captain. "The other guys played better.
It's a game of rewards. Play better, get more ice time. Don't play
well, get less.
"That's the same for every coach I've ever known, at every level,
except maybe peewee and bantam."
Yashin, the Isles' highest-paid player, counts $7.4 million against
their $39 million salary cap this season. He leads the team with 36
points in 38 games, but Stirling benched him - as he did Friday in
Ottawa - for taking "a stupid penalty" with the Isles on a power play
in a 1-1 game early in the third. Stirling also briefly benched Mike
York and Brent Sopel for lazy infractions, but he admitted salary-cap
restrictions on the roster have prevented him from using the scratch
list as the ultimate deterrent.
"The next step ... is you sit them in the crowd, if you have that
luxury," said Stirling, once again the subject of catcalls for his
job from the typically sparse crowd of 10,912. "I'd do it with
anybody if I thought it was the right thing to do."
Replacing banged-up starter Rick DiPietro (day-to-day, knee), Garth
Snow certainly earned his keep in making 41 saves. His only blemish
through 55 minutes was a converted penalty shot by Vincent Lecavalier
13:18 into the game.
A power-play tally by rookie Jeff Hamilton late in the second evened
matters, and Yashin returned from his brief benching to earn the
Isles another power play 13:34 into the third.
But St. Louis, who sent the Isles to a 3-2 loss with a goal in the
final two minutes Nov. 17 in Tampa, was sprung by Paul Ranger for a
shorthanded breakaway past Snow, breaking the tie with 4:57 remaining.
"Of course I'm frustrated and wish I could help the team. I wish
something would go right for me personally and my line," said Yashin,
who actually combined with Miroslav Satan for 13 shots despite the
latest benching. "I know I have to play better and give some
production. ... I know it's a message to me."