Angry Ottawa Senators fans yesterday threatened to sue Russian team captain Alexei Yashin, who is refusing to play for the National Hockey League club because it rejected his demand for a richer contract.

Property agent Len Potechin said he would file a class action against Yashin if the 25-year-old forward carried out a threat to sit out the last year of his contract.

"I want a message to go out that this is not acceptable. I'm not in this to make money. I'm in it for a proper message to go to young people that a contract is a contract," said Potechin.

Yashin, who has a year to go on his contract, is paid $3.5 million (Canadian) a year but wants to negotiate a new deal now that would be worth between $8 million and $10 million annually.

"I have 14 grandchildren, five of whom play hockey. They think the sun rises and shines on Alexei Yashin. He's an idol to them, so let him act accordingly," said Potechin, adding that he already received dozens of calls of support.

"I'm paying $6,500 for a season ticket and I expect to see a person who signed a contract--and who still has a year to go--to honor that contract," he said.

"You didn't see Wayne Gretzky doing this, did you?" . . .

The owners of the New York Islanders agreed to sell the team to a group led by former Madison Square Garden president Bob Gutkowski for $180 million, people familiar with the transaction said.

The team's current owners, Howard and Edward Milstein and Steven Gluckstern, signed a letter of intent to sell the team to Gutkowski's group. The New York Post reported the agreement in yesterday's editions. . . .

Mario Lemieux probably will own the Pittsburgh Penguins by Wednesday, a spokesman for the Hall of Fame hockey player said.

A group led by the former Penguins star reached a lease agreement on Tuesday with SMG, the closely held company that runs the Civic Arena, clearing the way for Lemieux to complete his $95 million purchase of the team that he led to Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992, said Lemieux spokesman John Brabender. . . .

Doug Risebrough, who has spent 25 years in the NHL as a player, coach and executive, will be the first general manager of the expansion Minnesota Wild. . . . The St. Louis Blues signed goaltender Roman Turek to a multiyear contract. . . . Free agent defenseman Jason Bowen signed with the Colorado Avalanche, along with two players from the club's minor league affiliate. Wing Christian Matte and center Serge Aubin, who were the leading scorers last season for Hershey of the American Hockey League, agreed to one-year contracts. . . . The Rangers agreed to terms with right wing Brad Smyth, who was acquired from the Nashville Predators in May for future considerations.


Griffith Honored

Sacramento Monarchs center Yolanda Griffith was named the WNBA's top newcomer and defensive player of the year in her first season after arriving from the defunct American Basketball League.

Griffith scored 18.8 points a game during the regular season and led the WNBA by averaging 2.52 steals and 11.3 rebounds. She helped the Monarchs reach the playoffs with a 19-13 record. . . .

In the NBA, a federal judge in San Francisco ordered the lawyers for the Knicks' Latrell Sprewell to pay $153,000 for arguing a lawsuit that challenged Sprewell's 68-game suspension for choking his coach when he was with the Golden State Warriors. . . .

The Bulls signed free agent center Will Perdue. . . . Free agent Samaki Walker signed a two-year, $5.6 million contract with the San Antonio Spurs. . . . The Timberwolves re-signed free agent forward Andrae Patterson. . . . Utah ended a two-week search by hiring Kevin O'Connor as vice president of basketball operations.


Seles Next for Williams

Venus Williams advanced to the semifinals of the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Conn., with a 6-0, 6-4 win over qualifier Magui Serna.

Williams faces the third seed, Monica Seles, in the semifinals. Seles advanced with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Amanda Coetzer, the fifth seed. Williams has beaten Seles in their only meeting, the semifinals at Stanford last year. . . .

Sixth-seeded Marat Safin of Russia defeated American qualifier Bob Bryan, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Pro Tennis Championships in Brookline, Mass.


Cubans Protest

In a dramatic protest, two-time Cuban Olympic champion Felix Savon refused to report to the ring and American Michael Bennett was awarded the heavyweight gold medal in the world amateur championships in Houston.

Moments later, Cuban boxing official Raul Villanueva angrily withdrew Cuba from the tournament, claiming that four Cuban fighters had been treated unjustly before last night's finals card.

Cuban light middleweight Jorge Gutierrez was scheduled to fight on tonight's card.

The Cubans were angered when Timour Gaidalov of Russia outpointed Cuban welterweight Juan Hernandez 5-3 in the fourth fight of the night. The Cubans protested the fight, claiming the Russian illegally put tape on his hand wraps. Gaidalov's hand wraps were ruled legal and then the Cubans protested on general grounds. Brian Viloria of Hawaii charged through all four rounds and then did a hula dance on the winner's stand after he defeated Maikro Romero of Cuba for the gold medal in the light flyweight division.


Armstrong Injured

Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong dropped out of the Mercury Tour mountain bike race in Steamboat Springs, Colo., after bruising his left knee, tour officials said. Armstrong crashed a couple of times during the 26.5-mile first stage of the race, tour spokeswoman Jolene Aubel said. He was able to come down the mountain on his own.

Auto Racing

Road Construction

Ground was broken in a Wilson County (Tenn.) field destined to be the site of the Nashville Superspeedway. The $125 million complex is set for completion during the summer of 2001. It will be set on 1,265 acres and will feature a 1.33-mile oval track with grandstand seating for 50,000. Also planned are four other tracks, including a drag strip with seating for 15,000. The entire complex will be designed to handle 150,000 fans.


Open House

The Redskins will host their second club seat "tag" event open house Saturday at Redskins Stadium beginning at 4 p.m. The approximately 400 unsold club seats will be tagged, allowing fans interested in purchasing them to sit in them. The Redskins' preseason game in Pittsburgh will be shown on the JumboTron beginning at 7:30. Fans should enter the stadium through Gate A.