Alex Semin: Bettman Has Never Been to Siberia!

Alex Semin

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

In his first game back since January 8th, Alex Semin led the Capitals with four shots on goal in 17:47 of ice time. After a 12 game layoff that stretched over 26 days, Sasha Minor looked rusty and missed on several golden opportunities. The Capitals fell to the Sharks 2-0, and endured their eighth shutout of the season.

After the game, SovSport’s Pavel Lysenkov caught up with Semin and asked him how he felt in his return, his thoughts on Bruce Boudreau’s trap, and what it’d mean to him to open next season in Russia. RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has your translation below the jump.


Semin played on the second line with Brooks Laich and Mathieu Perreault. Alex was so upset by the loss, it took some persuading to get an interview. “We have waited for a month for your groin injury to heal!”

“It’s kind of hard at first,” admitted Semin. “But I played out the game without any pain.”

Pavel Lysenkov – Do you remember how you got injured?

Alex Semin – No. it happened a long time ago, in December.

PL – Did you play on with injections?

AS – Why would I? This is not the playoffs. I played through the pain. When I couldn’t tolerate it anymore, I went to the doctors.

PL – Evgeni Malkin just came back after his injury, and went down again. Did Washington push you to return to the ice?

AS – Not at all. I finished my treatment and returned to the lineup.

PL – The team is playing more defensive hockey now. Does this style fit you?

AS – The coach chooses the tactics. I haven’t changed my game. You simply have to execute your assignment. But you do what you want in around the opponents’ goal.

PL – Washington has tightened the neutral zone coverage…

AS – That is one of the coaches’ ideas.

PL – Was the game against the Sharks playoff-like?

AS – No. We just did not score. Their goalie had a good game. What kind of tactics is it if we end up losing 2-0? We need to do something differently. We relaxed in the third period, and the game got away…

PL – Is the team talking about the need to overtake Tampa?

AS – I have not heard anything like that. We need to win every game. And not think about who we’ll get in the playoffs. And what’s the difference anyway?


PL – It appears Washington is simply lacking emotions this season.

AS – We used to win a lot of games. For whatever reason, it’s not happening this year. We need to find ourselves and play like we can.

PLYou beat Tampa 5-2 a few days ago…

AS – That’s what I am talking about. Or the game against Pittsburgh: 3-0.

PL – Are you sick of the press-box? You sat up there while injured.

AS – Oh, totally. I even wanted to stop coming to the games. I was fed up with watching hockey from the sidelines. I wanted to go on the ice. But you can’t rush.

PL – Earlier this season, when everything was going wrong for him, Kovalchuk said, “Maybe someone put a spell on me.” Are you superstitious?

AS – To each his own. Yes, I do believe in such things. But I don’t know why anybody would put a curse on me. Who would want to do that?

PL – It seems the whole Russian Olympic team has been cursed.

AS – Things happen. We are all going through a dark period. But it will get better. You can’t get hung up on that.

PL – Do the words of the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman bother you? He doesn’t want to send his teams to Siberia.

AS – But he has never been there. It’s a longer flight from here to Los Angeles than from Moscow to Novosibirsk. It’s only four hours to my hometown Krasnoyarsk…

PL – Would you like to go there with Washington?

AS – From what I have read, we are opening our regular season in Peter [Saint Petersburg] against Buffalo. But I did not hear anything about playing against the KHL teams. We’ll play if we need to. And we will not be taking it easy. If you relax, it’s easy to get seriously injured.

PL – Ovechkin said: if the Capitals get to play at Khodynka, a half of Krasnoyarsk will gather there.

AS – There will be a lot of people supporting me. Although nobody has asked for a ticket yet. It’s still too early.

Additional reporting by Ian Oland.

  • thanks for the translation!

  • Nicci

    Thanks for the interview! Very much appreciated.

  • lulu

    “The coach chooses the tactics….” Buried in the avalanche of newws about Semin’s contract extension was the nugget from his agent that he “would score more goals if he played constantly with Backstrom…”
    I think it’s clear he’s unhappy (rightly) with the ongoing and unpredictable line changes and the long absence of a strong 2C.

    He’s a terrific talent but needs much more support than he’s getting.

  • deann

    His interviews are always intriguing. I can’t help but like the guy.

  • deann

    @lulu: I’ve often wondered if Semin’s issues are related to coaching. Is he really the selfish, lazy player he’s made out to be or is the coaching staff hampering his world-class skills? From the comments other players have made, it certainly appears that there are many that aren’t happy with the constant line changes. I can’t help but wonder if Semin would flourish under another coach. Clearly, he can be very undisciplined but is he being used effectively?


    @deann: I think the answer to your question has to be a fairly emphatic “No – he’s not being used effectively.” If the “go-to” line when we’re down late in the 3rd is 8-19-28, then it seems to me that should be the default 1st line through at least half the game – and certainly if we want to strike first in the 1st period.

    I’m not saying that should be set in stone – clearly lines should be changed on nights things just aren’t “clicking.” But, it’s this Semin fan’s opinion that you’re not maximizing 28’s talent by consistently playing him on the 2nd line with rookies like Perrault or Johanson. Let the stars have their “chemistry” and use the other 3 lines to put together a combination of offense, hits, and generally wearing down the other side.

    I’ve noticed – for example – that the player’s that generally are able to anticipate and receive a world class assist/pass from 28 tend to be either Green on the PP, or Backstrom or Ovechkin on any given offensive zone push. The other players – while skilled no doubt in their own right – just don’t seem to have the same consistent ability to play up to Semin’s ability.

    My simply point being, early this season it seemed more often than not to be the case where Semin was making Perrault or Johanson look good with an amazing assist, then vice versa. And that’s not necessarily the best way to use a scorer like Semin.

    And isn’t it telling BB didnt start using Semin in the PK unit until after McPhee said something post Worlds last year? If you’re being objective – its kind of ridiculous the coach couldnt figure that out over 5+ seasons on his own.

  • Lee

    @28ISGREAT: I wholeheartedly agree. I often find myself wondering why Semin is playing on the second line regularly in the first place. Other teams in the NHL would kill to have someone that skilled on their top line, I would imagine. While I have a ton of respect for Chimera and Knuble, they do not (at least this season) seem to be able to find the chemistry with Ovechkin and Backstrom that the Caps need for significant offensive force (though those two stars are hardly blameless in their own right). And how can Semin be expected to flourish with no real experienced line-mates, especially when they change night-to-night? In due time, I have every confidence that Johansson and/or Perrault will eventually be able to settle in and fill the long-awaited role of “strong, consistent second-line center.” Until then, however, what’s the harm in putting Semin with his Russian and Swedish friends? Worst case scenario: no goals, lines are switched back after a few games. Best case: Ovechtrick?? Semintrick? I for one, am all for it.

  • Ga

    Semin is on the 2nd line because he is lazy, stands around on the ice, turns the puck over, and commits dumb penalties regularly!!! He needs to show he deserves to be on the first line by working hard like his team mates 25, 22, 21, 90, 26 do! That’s why they rotate through the first line, and I think Coach B is doing the right thing.

  • deann

    Ga, then what is Ovechkin doing on the first line? He’s every bit as guilty of lazy play, standing around on the ice, turning the puck over, whiffing on passes. Based on Semin’s production this year in comparison, Ovechkin should be demoted.

  • barb

    bruce has made no secret of the fact that he dislikes semin.

    boudreau is starting to come across as one of those powerless guys who needs someone to kick around in order to feel he’s more powerful than he really is. and his favorite thing to kick is semin.

    wouldn’t it be great to see what a coach who can appreciate skill players would do with the capitals, instead being stuck with of a guy who only likes former hershey bears and third/fourth line grinders who have to work until they bleed to be merely mediocre?


    @Ga – you’re right, I sweat, get out of breath and get injured sitting on my sofa every night too….