With no regrets and no apology to fans, Alexei Yashin returned to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
General manager Marshall Johnston announced the return of the star center at a news conference at the Corel Centre. Yashin ended a holdout that began last summer when he demanded the renegotiation of his contract.
"We are happy to announce Alexei's bilateral and unconditional return to the team," Johnston said, the offered an awkward and less than enthusiastic handshake to Yashin, who seemed surprised.
Yashin held out last season and then tried to get an arbitrator to declare him a free agent. The arbitrator rejected that and told Yashin he still owed the Senators a year under his contract. Yashin's attempt to appeal that decision in court failed last week.
"The arbitrator's decision compelled me to come back and play for Ottawa," said Yashin, a three-time 30-goal scorer and runner-up for league MVP when he had 44 goals and 50 assists in 1998-99. "I'm here because I can't play hockey anywhere else in the world."
Yashin said he did not regret holding out. "I'm not going to apologize to my fans because I know a lot of fans still like me and still want to me to play hockey," he said. "I will do my best, and we'll see what happens."
Defenseman Chris Phillips said he doesn't doubt Yashin is sincere about doing his best but it's up to the Russian to make amends with his teammates.
"We don't need an apology, but certainly an explanation would be good," Phillips said.
AVALANCHE: Center Peter Forsberg may miss the preseason opener Thursday against the Dallas Stars because of a sprained ankle.
Forsberg said he was injured five weeks ago while playing soccer in Sweden. He will not participate in training camp drills for the next few days. "There's nothing wrong with my foot," he said. "It's just a little swollen."
COYOTES: Goalie Sean Burke signed a one-year deal. Terms were not released. Burke, acquired from the Panthers last season, appeared in 35 games while Nikolai Khabibulin sat out because of a contract dispute.
FLYERS: Defenseman Chris Therien signed a four-year, $9-million contract, so everyone expected at camp when it begins today is signed. The team still was negotiating with left wing John LeClair. He becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season and set a deadline of today for working out an extension.
STARS: Coach Ken Hitchcock said he doesn't anticipate wing Jere Lehtinen, who missed all but 17 games last season because of an ankle injury, joining the team in camp. Lehtinen's wife, Jaana, is pregnant with twins and was due this week.