Alexei Yashin, Part of the Last Islander Playoff Team, Laces Up for Sandy Relief Saturday

Christian Arnold , Islanders Point Blank:

Now 39-years-old, former Islander Alexei Yashin has not played in the NHL since the 2006-2007 season when he played on Long Island. Despite the absence he has practiced at the Isles practice facility in the past and still can be seen at the Coliseum for games. This Saturday, Yashin will hit the ice for a good cause Saturday afternoon. He is partaking in the Global Hockey Legends for Hurricane Sandy Relief Game at the Prudential Center, which starts at 1 P.M.

Ironically, his last year in the league coincides with the last time the Isles made it to the post season. They currently sit tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference and could make their first playoff appearance since 2007.

“They’re in a very good position, but they still have to win some hockey games to clinch the playoffs and I wish them good luck,” Yashin said of the current team during a phone interview Friday. “I’m very happy for Charles too, because he’s tried to make the playoffs for the last couple of years and now they really have an opportunity.”

Yashin remembered the opportunities he’s had to play in the Coliseum during the playoffs, specifically recalling the 2002 series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. “It’s probably one of the best, emotional, and exciting games I’ve played at the Coliseum,” he said.

But he knows that a return to the playoffs has been what the fans have been waiting for since.

“I think that’s what the hockey fans here on Long Island have been waiting for,” Yashin said. “They want a team to be successful, play in the playoffs and show what we can do.”

On Saturday, Yashin will hit the ice for the Global Hockey Legends for Hurricane Sandy Relief Game at the Prudential Center. The game will feature stars such as Yashin, former Islanders captain Billy Guerin, Brian Leetch, Ron Dugay and others. All the proceeds will go to programs that help communities that are still dealing with the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

“I think for me it’s great because I can keep myself in shape. And plus if we can help some people in the world, it’s great.  I’ve been involved a lot in games like that and to me it’s great,” Yashin said Friday.

The former Islander captain knows first hand the impact the storm had on the area. At the time of the storm he was in New York. “We got hit maybe not as bad as other people, but we lost some trees on the property. It’s been a very dangerous time and… I’m glad I can help,” he said.

It has been a busy week for Yashin, who just returned from the Women’s World Hockey Championships in Canada. He was recently named general manager of the Russian women’s hockey team and was in attendance as they won the bronze medal in the World’s.

Yashin did spend time helping players on the ice, but now in a managerial position he is finding out the differences the job entails.

“It’s way different, especially from an emotional point,” he said. “When you’re on the ice you can help or you can do something for results. When you’re sitting in the stands you’re just watching a hockey game and it’s very difficult and tough. But from my point, this part of the game was very interesting. Talking to the sponsors, making the right decisions on what to do for the team to create the right environment to succeed. It was very interesting. It was a different job.”

Having played 12 years in the NHL, five of which were with the Islanders, Yashin is trying to take what he has learned over the years and propel the Woman’s team onto the medal podium in 2014 when the Winter Olympics are held in Sochi, Russia. He says that he talks to the coaching staff to make sure that the team is run in as professional a manner as possible, like one would see in the NHL, KHL, or at Team USA or Team Canada.

As for watching his former team, Yashin is hopeful he can be in the building Saturday night when the Islanders host the New York Rangers at the Coliseum. “It’s going to be a big game,” he said of the match up.

He’ll have a tough cross-metro area trip to make, as the benefit game begins at 1 P.M. on Saturday at the Prudential Center with the Islanders dropping the puck at 7 P.M. at the Nassau Coliseum.