NEW YORK (AP) -The New York Islanders said they will buy out the four years remaining on captain Alexei Yashin's 10-year contract.
``This decision was one of the hardest I have ever had to make'' Islanders' owner Charles Wang said in a statement on the team's Web site Wednesday. ``The organization holds Alexei in the highest regard - as a player, as a teammate and as a person. He was part of the revival of the franchise at a time when we had not qualified for the playoffs for eight seasons.''
Yashin was traded to the Islanders by the Ottawa Senators after the 2000-01 season. The Islanders later signed the Russian to a 10-year deal worth $87.5 million. He had 119 goals and 171 assists for 290 points in 346 games, but struggled the last two seasons.
``The Islanders have treated me with the utmost respect,'' Yashin said on the Islanders' Web site. ``I've always believed in the vision Charles Wang has for the organization and although I won't be a part of it, I believe that the team is headed in the right direction. I'm looking forward to this new chapter in my life.''
Yashin missed 24 games this season with a sprained right knee. He was scoreless in the Islanders' 4-1 first-round playoff loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

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