Then there's the matter of the telephone. A sociable sort, Kasparaitis would get to feeling homesick during his first year. So he would call Lithuania. Several times a week. For an hour a pop. "Then he discovered the cellular phone," Islander forward Marty McInnis recalls, laughing. "He took it on the team bus and would dial Moscow from there, laughing and talking in Lithuanian." Monthly phone tab: $1,000. "Then," McInnis adds, "he stopped laughing."
Play Ed McMahon for too long, of course, and things will catch up to you. By the middle of last season, it was pretty clear that Kasparaitis was blowing it all, although he did have something to show for it: a swanky condo, the BMW, enough evening wear to clothe the Southampton country club set for a year. His agent, Mark Gandler, wisely steered him to a financial adviser, who now has him on a budget. "Save money," Kasparaitis says. "Very good."
Could it be that the young Lithuanian is, dare we say it, maturing? He's spending more time at home with his Russian fiancée, Irina Kouznetsova. He and his Russian émigré pals go bowling. (Wicked spare, Alexei!) And he's into American movies, which helps his English and keeps him away from innocent light stanchions. "I see Slapshot" he says. "Brothers get in fight before game. Like very much."
He's young. Give him time.