Volume 93, Issue 43

Tuesday, November 16, 1999


Mustangs victorious in Victoria

A quest to repeat as CIAU champs

Western's golden men

Mustangs beat weak Warrior lineup

Western makes Lakehead feel soggy

Ottawa Senators set example for pro sports

Ottawa Senators set example for pro sports

I have finally gained respect for a sports team. My jaded view of the professional sports world has been saved by a team willing to stick to their guns and do what is best for both the business and the fans.

The team I am referring to is the National Hockey League's Ottawa Senators. The Senators have stood up and said "no" to re-negotiating the contract of star centre Alexei Yashin. The team told Yashin he would not be traded and his contract would not be re-negotiated which forces him to sit out the season.

Last week the Yashin conflict was put to an end when the Senators stood their ground and suspended him for the year. To top it all off, the Senators still claim Yashin owes them a year of hockey in order to complete all the terms of his current contract.

A team has finally stood up and not bowed down to a player demanding more money. I am so sick and tired of players sitting out to get pay increases through contract re-negotiations.

Sure, I know the counter argument is that players are only trying to get the maximum benefit from their small time in the sport, but don't they have a loyalty to their fans and the team? When you sign on the dotted line, you agree to the terms of the contract. It's simple business – how many people in the nine to five world have the liberty to negotiate a working contract whenever they feel like it?

Nevermind the huge salaries athletes are paid, if the owners are willing to increase the pay out, then more power to the players – but only if they are at the end of their current contracts.

Yashin has shown pure greed. Twice prior to his most recent demand, the captain has had his contract re-negotiated. I wonder what makes a player demand more money – I thought they played for the love of the game? The truth is the love of the game is a distant third behind the pay and the statistics. Money should not be the motivating factor behind competition.

The biggest loser in these battles are the fans who put the money in both the owner's and player's pockets. Unfortunately, Yashin's demand for more pay and the Senators decision not to re-negotiate with him, in the end, only takes away from the fan's enjoyment of the game.

What happens if this goes to court and the Senators win the court case? This would be interesting because it would effect the entire league, as hold-outs who demand contract re-negotiation will think twice before deciding to sit out the season. Players would not want to get involved in a Yashin-esque situation because they'd be put in an awkward position. The players would not get out of their existing contacts and they would be forced to play out the year at their current salary.

Although arguments go both ways, personally, I'm glad to see a team say "no" and stand firmly behind that decision. Ottawa has succeeded where most teams have failed – they have yet to bow down to the pressure of the player's demands.

If only other sports franchises had the spine of the Senators – the sports world would be a much better place.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999