Unrepentant Yashin booed across Canada

Originally published on EuroReport.com in 2000

By Lucas Aykroyd

If you know your hockey history, you’ll recall the negative fan reaction Denis Potvin got whenever he played at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Well, Alexei Yashin of the Ottawa Senators looks poised to live out a Potvinesque nightmare this winter in rinks around the NHL, and especially in Canada. The disapproving voices of the fans now join those of the media, who slammed the big center’s decision to hold out for a year instead of honoring his $3.6-million US contract. Legally compelled to resume his career in Ottawa, Yashin has a long road back if he hopes to regain the public’s confidence, let alone the 94-point form that earned him a Hart Trophy nomination in 1998-99. EuroReport’s Lucas Aykroyd recently spoke with Yashin, 26, after a Senators morning skate.

EuroReport: How do you feel about the reception Canadian fans have given you so far?

Alexei Yashin: I already answered this question many times with the press in different cities, so you can read about it there.

EuroReport: Then what about the fans in Russia? During the World Championships in St. Petersburg, they seemed to give you a lot of support.

Yashin: It was nice to be back home. We didn’t play well in the World Championships, but it was still nice to see that when we were losing a lot of important games, the fans were still coming out to the games.

EuroReport: What went wrong for Team Russia there?

Yashin: It’s very difficult to say. We probably tried to play too hard and put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We should probably have relaxed more. But we tried our best, we gave everything we could, and it’s too bad it didn’t work out. Hopefully it will in the future.

EuroReport: And now you’re back in Ottawa. What do you think will be the key to good team chemistry this year?

Yashin: Just to play hard and give 100 percent every shift, the whole season long. Keep focused on the game, and hopefully we’ll be successful.

EuroReport: After a year off, what do you need to do personally to repeat the success you had in 1998-99?

Yashin: I was practicing all season long, but again, in our job, you never know what is going to happen. Some things you can’t control. You just have to give your best effort.

EuroReport: How happy are you with your play in the exhibition games so far?

Yashin: Not bad. I think the team has played fine. We haven’t always gotten the proper result, but I hope we can learn from that and be more successful in the regular season.

EuroReport: How closely did you follow the Senators during your absence last year?

Yashin: It’s hard to say. I kept focused on what I had to do to keep myself in shape, but at the same time, I was looking hard at everything going on in the NHL.

EuroReport: NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow is in Vancouver to attend the Marty McSorley trial. Have you had a chance to talk with him about your situation relative to the Players Association?

Yashin: What do you mean? We always support each other in the NHLPA, so it’s always been a good relationship.

EuroReport: One final question. Do you think that if a player has a bad season, the club should be able to renegotiate his contract?

Yashin: It’s not my decision. I’m not the head of a hockey club, so I really can’t answer this question.

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