3 U18 Czechs smoke, blame Alex Semin

According to a story that was published last Thursday on LifeSports.ru, three Czech players were dismissed from the Czech Republic National Under-18 Team during the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. The reason? Prospects Tomas Kvapil, Jaroslav Pavelka and Mateja Beran were caught smoking and drinking in their hotel room after their team’s 3-2 victory over rival Russia. The prospects, “while in the heat of a fun moment” also smashed the room they were staying at in the team hotel.

In an interview after their dismissal, one of the players blamed the influence of a certain DC area sex symbol:

“I don’t understand why we were sent home. On the web, I saw Alex Semin and other Russian stars smoking during the World Championships in Germany. And nothing came of it.”

Really?  This again?

Jaroslav Holik (a famous Czech coach and father of Stanley Cup Champion Bobby Holik) as well as teammates of the “drinking trio” did not support the decision. “If each of the guys smoked a cigarette and drank one bottle of beer,” Holik said, “It’s not enough reason enough to send them home. They’re still 18!”

The legal drinking and smoking age in Czech Republic is in fact 18, but two of the players, Kvapil and Pavelka, are 17 according to eliteprospects.com. That was more than enough for Bench Boss Jiri Scholz to cut ties, stating that “such actions undermine the whole system.”

If you consider the prospects’ offense with a Soviet attitude, what they’ve done is reprehensible.  In the USSR,  sportsmen are expected to live in such a way to be at their bests.  It’s different in the west; if you maximize your talent and play at your best all the time, no one cares how you live. This may explain the difference of opinion here.

And since you asked, we still don’t see what the big deal is.  Alex Semin, a professional athlete at the highest level, is eminently responsible for his own well-being.  A little bit of vice is fine, and it’s not like he can’t pass his fitness test.  Children at a lower level of the sport and breaking the law don’t enjoy those same allowances.

What this story does prove, however, is that NHL players are influential across the world. For good reasons or silly ones, they are under the microscope.  Alex Semin is a role model, and he’ll continue to get stuck with stories like this for a long time to come.  Let’s just promise ourselves to lie down until it goes away.

  • Holly

    I think it’s good that they sent them home! And I think it’s ridiculous that someone like Alexander Semin, a professional athlete of the highest level, does something as stupid and detrimental to his health as smoking cigarettes!!!! He should be under a microscope and he should quit smoking! Not only so this very thing never happens again, but moreso for his health!

  • Elyssa

    I agree that smoking is bad for your health and that would be a reason for Semin to quit, but he shouldn’t be held responsible for what these kids did. They’re more than old enough to make decisions for themselves, citing Semin’s actions is just an easy excuse for them to use so they don’t have to be to blame. They should’ve just manned up, said they made a mistake, and accepted their consequences. Plus while pro athletes and others in the spotlight are held as role models, they also should be allowed to live their lives as much as anyone else without having every little action scrutinized by the public. Semin can be held responsible for ruining his own health by smoking, but not for the stupidity of these young players.

  • Thaddeus Guy

    Holly, according to my cardiologist, anything under 5-10 cigarettes a day does nothing more to you than living in a large city and walking around on the crowded streets.

  • Elyssa

    Plus, the Czech-Russian hockey feud is pretty big (enough so that ESPN writes articles like this: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=517914) so why would a bunch of Czech youth players do something emulating a Russian player? Seems like they’re using him more as a scapegoat than an idol…

  • Fedor Fedin

    @Thaddeus Guy I wouldn’t like to double that influence.
    @Elyssa They HATE Russia, really.

  • Tim

    What a cop-out by those kids. They misbehaved, and they want to blame it on the influence of a player who has nothing to do with them? I don’t think Semin should be smoking, but they need to take the blame for their own actions. Hopefully they’ll learn from this.

  • Taz

    Sooo, they were thrown off the team for smoking and drinking but NOT because they trashed the hotel room (are there any stories of Semin trashing a hotel room?). Huh. Brings new meaning to the phrase “smoke and mirrors”.

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  • Cookie Monster

    @ Taz:

    Yes, Semin, with Alex, trashed a hotel room a couple years ago. They had a pillow fight and sprayed Coke on each other and the floor. They had to pay a paltry $100 in damages.

    I hope they’ve grown up more and take the hotel staff into consideration while traveling.

  • lulu

    Why are people always blaming Semin? He’s one of the world’s best players and major sex symbols, but does not encourage anyone to follow his actions. I’m sure when it suits them they consider themselves adults — man up and take the blame for your own misbehavior!

  • Steve

    They weren’t influenced by NHL players, they were influenced by “Russian stars” at the World Championships

  • Nice.

    And typical of the age bracket: blame someone else.

    Personal responsibility is the keyword here. If Sasha chooses to smoke, he’s an idiot. But it’s his choice. If these kids choose to smoke, they are not only idiots, they are (in two cases, at least – the 17 year olds) lawbreakers in the country in which they were caught smoking.

    They’re lucky all they got was tossed.

  • One (legal) bottle of beer (for the 18 year old) – fine.
    One (legal) cigarette (for the 18 year old) – gross, but also legally fine.
    Getting smashed in either case and/or smoking the entire pack? Not so much.

    My guess is that he, at least, was tossed more for the hotel room than the beer and cigarettes.

  • Oh, and welcome back, guys! 🙂

  • Ryan

    Its a pretty well kept secret within the certain spot that the Caps Kids hang out that Semin smokes two packs a day. Why do you think he takes so many lazy stick penalties when he looks winded.

  • lulu

    Ryan — I really find that hard to believe. When would he have the TIME to do that?

  • barb

    um. really? sasha influenced you to smoke? pretty lame excuse, kids.

    sasha needs to stop smoking. but he’s a big boy, and that’s his decision. hopefully alex will take him aside and do a friendly intervention (or a little rectal/cranium reversion) on him, get him to see the ill of his ways. but what vices does alex have??

    but it’s pretty freaking funny that caps fans are all excited angry about sasha having a smoke, especially when you think how much beer is slammed back at the games every night. yep. none of us have any vices, do we? i have vices. none i’d want photographed and put on the web. certainly none i’d want kids emulating either! =D

  • Me

    Who cares if Semin or anybody else smokes or not. It’s their bodies that they’re ruining. As long as nobody is smoking around me, I don’t care.

    Those Czech kids who smoked have nobody but themselves to blame for getting kicked off the team for smoking.

  • This would trouble me, if I wasn’t 100% sure Semin doesn’t give a fuck.

    The difference is, he’s an adult, and he has every right to smoke, drink, and pass out on a pile of money every night if he feels like it. He’s in the god damn NHL. Also, I think a lot of people here are missing an important point, and that point is, smoking makes you look cool.

    I really like lulu’s comment suggesting those kids wanted to be like Semin because they think he’s a sex symbol. It makes me LOL thinking of those little punks poring over pictures of Sasha in his Crocs and his shredded, two-rips-away-from-being-a-denim-thong jeans like he’s a Russian Joey McIntyre. Lulz.