Oh, the off-season. While the Stanley Cup contenders whittle each other away, we Caps fans are left to look at the Russian media in confusion. Today’s scrum over Alexander Semin smoking might set the standard for our hockey coverage between now and September. So, yay.
Using Fedor Fedin’s masterful translation skills and cultural insider status, we trace this thread to its beginning. It all started when Ovie and Semin were in Russia before the World Championships. They were dining at a restaurant when the intrepid and not-at-all-unscrupulous Russian press snapped some photos of Semin smoking a cigarette. That’s when the insanity began.
CAVEAT: This isn’t exactly Dmitry Chesnokov-caliber journalism. Let’s have a grain of salt and throw back this tequila shot of “news.”
It’s known that Ovechkin and Semin are party guys and love to hang out during leave in Russia. But it’s also known that Russian head coach Bykov is very strict about discipline. But if the “sweet pair” from the NHL generates results in Germany, no one will blame them for the behavior violation.
Players came to the base in time– thanks to Ovechkin’s fast car. Despite the night’s adventures, Ovie and Sam [Ed. note - Somehow, "Sam" is Semin's nickname in Russia] looked vigorous and fit, showing they’re ready to revenge after Vancouver’s shaming in Canada.
But when the Russian twosome arrived in Cologne, the partying did not stop.
After the game against Kazakhstan, [the Russian] team went downtown to a restaurant in Cologne to celebrate Semin’s long-awaited goal. The players’ spirits were high, and some of them even allowed themselves a smoke.
Russian team left hotel in small groups to not attract attention.
Ovi didn’t smoke, but Sam took a couple of puffs. Vitaly Atyshov and Ilya Nikulin had a smoke break as well.
And after today’s game, Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov responded to journalists asking about Marlboro-gate:
“Those are clones. Not our guys. They’re clones. I don’t watch it all… I don’t watch videos, I don’t read the Web. I trust our guys. They know how to prepare to the game.”
Here’s video of his press-conference. It’s totally in Russian:
Fedor tells us that this is a big deal in Russia. It’s not a typical thing for an athlete to smoke, and that justifies pounds of ink and megapixels of pixels.
Sitting aloof in our comfy chairs, we find this hilaaaaaarious. Mostly because we don’t care. Smoking is terrible for your health (don’t do it, kids!), but Sasha Minor is in awesome shape. Mischief in moderation isn’t going to ruin his health, especially since he’s skating only 10 minutes a game. And when even the hard-ass Slava Bykov cracks a joke, we know everything’s cool.
But seriously, clones?