Photo credit: Rob Carr
Mark Gandler is always good for a pot stirring. As an agent for Alex Semin, Gandler has rarely hesitated to drop a bombastic statement about his client or his critics. With Semin moved to the Carolina Hurricanes, playing pretty well, and pulling in a cool prorated $7 million for 48 games of work, Gandler must have figured it was his time to speak. In an interview with Sovetsky Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov, Gandler talks about how great Semin is doing in Raleigh, how underappreciated he was in DC, and why the Washington Capitals are so bad this year.
(Hint: Not enough Russians)
Igor Kleyner has your translation.
Why do so many Russian players look so unremarkable this season? Is it because of their KHL efforts?
Normally you start the regular season in the NHL in October. By February there is terrible fatigue. You can’t wait for the season to be over. It’s so unbearable, the results don’t matter. They call it “the dog days” in America.
Why then there are no dog days for Alexander Semin in Carolina?
The people who work for the Hurricanes are direct. If they don’t like something, they’ll come to you and say it. They won’t whisper behind your back and point fingers. The team leader Eric Staal is a great person, and so is his brother Jordan. The goalie Ward, LaRose… they have personable relationships in the locker room. That’s why Semin is comfortable.
In Washington, they didn’t notice all the good things Sash was doing. They only saw his mistakes. But every hockey player makes mistakes. They are not robots. Everybody in Carolina is positive. Semin knows if he plays well defensively, they’ll praise him. The Capitals saw it as a given.
What’s happening in Washington? They are in 13th place in the East.
You need certain chemistry. But with the Capitals, the last few years their backbone is third line players. They can do very well in a few games. But when you don’t have such skillful players as Fleischmann or Semin, the style of the game changes.
True, this season Washington acquired Mike Ribeiro. But the backbone is still the same. Also, the injures hit: Laich, Green… The goalies didn’t always carry them. If they’d kept Varlamov, maybe they would be playing better. Although Holtby is quite a strong goaltender – mentally, and technically as well.
I think they will improve. They are probably strong enough to be the 8th team in the East, to make playoffs. But it’s difficult to catch up when many games are worth three points, but a win only gets you two. Also, because of the lockout, all games are within the conference.
Is it possible for the Capitals to trade Ovechkin?
The team’s problem is not Ovechkin. Such a trade can relieve the pressure, but the team will not get better from it.