The NHL Players' Association has filed a grievance on behalf of Ottawa Senators holdout center Alexei Yashin, published reports said Friday.
Sources told the Ottawa Sun that the union has asked an independent arbitrator to make a ruling on whether Yashin will be a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn't honor the final year of his contract.
"I have not read the communication. I'm sure it will be in Ottawa when I get back there and we'll go from there. We really haven't been commenting much on this situation. This is uncharted territory for all of us and we'll have to see what happens," Senators president Roy Mlakar said Friday night during the Senators' game in Pittsburgh.
The Senators insist that because Yashin isn't honoring the final year of his contract and he has been suspended for the season, he'll have to play next season at his current $3.6 million salary.
While the union might not agree with Yashin's holdout, union head Bob Goodenow confirmed in an interview with the Toronto Sun that the union will step in to protect the contract it signed with the league.
Goodenow said Yashin should become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, even if he doesn't honor the final year of his deal, and that the Senators' position that he owes them another year is wrong.
"I'm sure Bob thinks he has to take some action as a union. Exactly what his course of action is, I'm not sure but I'm sure he feels there's a need to do something," Mlakar said. "There is nothing between the player and the club. We have not said anything bad about Alex, nor will we. We like Alex and we'd like to have him."
He said pro baseball and basketball management are asking the Senators about Yashin's case.
"This is being watched by a lot of people. As I said, I don't think anyone can predict what's going to happen," Mlakar said.
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed