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SENATORS SUSPEND YASHIN, LAWSUIT COULD FOLLOW

The Ottawa Senators indefinitely suspended captain Alexei Yashin, who is in the midst of a salary dispute, and said they may sue him if he doesn't play this season.

Yashin's agent, Mark Gandler, has told the team to trade the 25-year-old center or renegotiate his contract, which has one year remaining at $3.6 million. Yashin didn't attend his mandatory physical on Sunday and failed to show up at the team's preliminary training camp activities Sunday and Monday.

Senators general manager Marshall Johnston said Yashin rejected a proposed three-year contract on Friday that would have paid Yashin $3.6 million this season, followed by $11 and $12 million the next two years.

Elsewhere in the NHL:

* Robert Reichel has agreed to begin playing for a team in the Czech Republic, after failing to get a deal from the Phoenix Coyotes, Czech media reported today. Reichel will play for HC Litvinov at least until Oct. 1, when the NHL season begins, the daily newspaper Sport said.

Reichel, who earned $1.7 million last season, has been seeking a multiyear contract for more than $3 million a season. He said he would not return to the NHL if his expectations were not met.

* Wal-Mart heirs Bill and Nancy Laurie have purchased the St. Louis Blues and Kiel Center.

"Nancy and I are looking forward to building on the strong Blues hockey tradition in the St. Louis community," said Bill Laurie, who had failed just months ago to buy the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets. "We have been searching for the right sports opportunity for several years and, to our delight, we found it right down the road."

Terms of the sale were to be announced this afternoon.

Kiel Partners, a consortium of local businessmen that owns the Blues, said it pumped more than $70 million into the team and Kiel Center over the previous four years to cover shortfalls.

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