Of all the contracts Mike Milbury signed as GM of the New York Islanders, there’s one that’s going to haunt him. Alexei Yashin. All the other deals he would have signed ultimately don’t matter in the light of this deal.
It’s also in the pre-salary cap era, where contracts weren’t as front an center as they are today.
Alexei Yashin was going to be Milbury’s star player. His cornerstone. The player his team would be built around. So the deal that he gave Yashin is of incredible consequence. And the deal Milbury would ultimately be judged by. And fairly.
Before Yashin got to New York he was almost a point per game player with the Ottawa Senators with 491 points in 504 games. Including an 88 point season the year before he arrived on the Island.
So the thought by Milbury was, Yashin is going to be a star player for the Islanders. He’s going to lead the renaissance. He didn’t.
To be fair, Yashin did help the New York Islanders make the playoffs in his very first season and for the next two seasons. They’d missed the postseason seven seasons prior. To make it three seasons in a row was a huge achievement.
But Milbury overlooked one thing. Yashin’s work ethic. Even before coming to the Islanders Yashin was known for his 50/40 effort level. He was a supremely talented player, but he couldn’t string it together for a full season.
By 2007, after five years with the Islanders, they bought out his contract. With four years remaining, the cost of the deal would stay on the Islanders books for another eight years.