NHL says Yashin can't play at the world championships

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The Independent Online

Ottawa Senators holdout Alexei Yashin cannot play at the world championships in his native Russia this month because he is under suspension until his contract runs out June 30, a National Hockey League spokesman said on Friday.

Yashin, suspended for the season by the Senators after holding out in a contract dispute, had hoped to play if Ottawa was eliminated from the playoffs before the tournament, which begins April 29 in St Petersburg.

League spokesman Gary Meagher said Yashin's suspension was in effect through June 30 when NHL contracts generally end.

The International Ice Hockey Federation had asked the NHL to clarify the status of Yashin's suspension before it decided if he could play for Russia.

The federation has an agreement to honor NHL suspensions at its events, such as the world championships.

"We wanted to know his status - is he suspended? For how long?" said Kimmo Leinonen, spokesman for the Zurich-based federation. "We will honor our agreement with the NHL. If there is a suspension, we'll honor it."

Yashin walked out on the final year of a contract that would have paid him $3.6 million this season. He reportedly demanded a new four-year contract worth dlrs 10 million to $12 million per season.

The high-scoring center spent the season training with the Swiss league club Kloten. His status for next season is in dispute.

The Russian hockey federation has denounced the NHL's ban on Yashin and reportedly is considering going to a Russian court to rule on whether he can play.

"We like to have all the best players there, and Yashin is a special player in Russia," Leinonen said. "He would be one of the magnets for the audience.

"We'd love to see him play but we have agreements with the NHL and we will honour them."