Alex Semin Signs With VHL Team To Be Near Granny

Semin with children at his former hockey school, Sokol Krasnoyarsk on Sunday. D’awww. (Photo credit: krsksokol.ru)

While many of the Russian NHL superstars immediately signed with KHL teams days after the lockout was imposed, former Capital Alex Semin had a tortoise’s pace in finding a new club. Sasha Minor had been linked to both Sergei Fedorov’s CSKA and the rebuilding Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team, but on Tuesday Semin finally decided who he wanted to play for: an obscure wildcard team in Russia’s minor league.

Sokol Krasnoyarsk – a modest club from the VHL (a minor Russian hockey league similar to the AHL) — announced today that they signed Semin to a season-long contract for the league minimum. During the press conference, Semin explained why he signed on with his hometown team. The reason should have been obvious from the start: Semin wanted his 90-year-old granny to see him play. You can’t make this stuff up.

“I just want to be home, in Krasnoyarsk,” Alex Semin said in his interview to Alexander Rogulev from Sport Express. “When I was leaving for the NHL, I dreamed that if there is ever a decent team and an opportunity, I would definitely play in front of my local fans.”

“I had options with some KHL clubs. But I decided to play at home,” Semin continued. “I have known the hockey people of Krasnoyarsk for a long time, was here after the Worlds, prepared for the new season in the local arena. You know, at first it was just jokes. And then I thought – why not? It’s been a long time since I spent much time at home. All the friends and relatives are ecstatic. And my grandma hasn’t seen me play in person for awhile. I’ll give her a present; she just turned 90 years old. She is in great health and a big fan.”

As his new employer is of  limited financial strength, Alex will play hockey for almost nothing (his $1,600 per week will all go towards his insurance policy premium). And even if he is eventually rewarded for his efforts, Sasha is planning to give it all to a very worthy cause: purchasing equipment and uniforms for the school where he started his hockey career.

True to his reputation, Sasha chose the hidden path– staying close to home and playing in a league most people on this side of the Pacific never even heard of, on a team with a total payroll just a tiny fraction of what he would earn in the NHL. Back when Alex Semin wore his Caps red for likely the last time, he told Igor how he never gets tired of spending time at his waterfront dacha on Krasnoyarsk Sea, with all the jet skiing, fishing, and bears in the woods. In a few short weeks, the sea will freeze, the bears will be hibernating, and Sasha will be enjoying the Siberian winter for the first time in his adult life.

Video: Sasha’s First Practice With Sokol Krasnoyarsk

Additional reporting and translating by Igor Kleyner.

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  • cantab70

    Good for him. Just goes to show that money isn’t everything.

  • http://twitter.com/batmaneatsbabie Sandra Dee Lee

    I seriously love him. But, I’m also side-eyeing his choice of clothing to be wearing while in Russia, but Sasha Gonna Be Sasha– I Mean, Alessandro

  • Katyusha

    Very refreshing. Babushka must be proud.

  • vahockeymom

    Awwww…..so sweet. And so nice to see. Sticking close to family, and
    playing for his town because it means something to him. Am I the only
    one who really misses Sasha in this moment?

  • http://twitter.com/Freedoooom Chase

    Good for him and us, because no we don’t have to worry about him playing in Traktor and saying anything bad about the Caps to Kuzya.

  • John Shisler

    Seriously? So I’m assuming you are glad he is gone. Way to turn a great, heart warming story into a way late shot at Sasha.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristen.k.wheeler Kristen Kerns Wheeler

    I was never a big fan of Sasha, but this may cause me to change my mind. I think it’s wonderful that he is giving back to the place that gave him his start and playing where his family can watch him!

  • Dark Stranger

    Trust me. You’re not the only one who misses Sasha.

  • http://twitter.com/make_lemons Michelle

    Happy to see RMNB still covering Semin :-)

  • http://twitter.com/AlwaysMySasha Renee Dailey

    Correct me if I am wrong but Sasha has never once said a negative word about a player, coach or the Caps organization as a whole. For you to think that he would shows how little you pay attention to any interview he has ever done. Sad that you would make a comment like this on an article as heartwarming as this one.