“Hey! They spelled my name wrong! What gives!” (Photo credit: hctorpedo.ru)

When Nicklas Backstrom made his debut for Dynamo Moscow Monday, he was surrounded by familiar faces. Alex Ovechkin flanked him at left wing on the first line and former teammate Semyon Varlamov was in net for Lokomotiv. Dynamo had no trouble getting over that potential awkwardness however, turning in one of their most solid wins on the year, a 3-0 shutout of Lokomotiv. Ovechkin, who sure was in a punchy mood that day, had a goal and an assist. Backstrom also contributed a helper.

On Wednesday, the Caps reunion continued as Dynamo traveled to Nizhny Novgorod for the first ever BATTLE OF THE SASHAS © (imagine the Super Bowl but on ice and everyone wears pants that are half sweatpants/half jeans).

Unfortunately for Ovechkin, the trip to see his other BFF Alex Semin didn’t go so well.

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Photo credit: Sovetsky Sport

Last week, former Washington Capital Alex Semin settled on his lockout destination, surprising everyone by choosing Sokol Krasnoyarsk, a minor league team from his hometown. “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,” Semin explained during his introductory press conference. “And my (90-year-old) grandma hasn’t seen me play in person for awhile. I’ll give her a present.”

It was only a matter of time before the big guns of the Russian hockey media showed up in Krasnoyarsk, far from a hockey hotbed, to get the full story on why Semin came home. For their trouble, Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport and Alexander Rozhkov of Championat.com got personal tours of the city from Sasha on the eve of his debut in the VHL. Semin showed them the rink where he learned to skate, his school, and the apartment building where he grew up.

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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.

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Proposal: Let’s Ditch Plus-Minus …and Introducing Ice Tilt!

Photo credit: Flickr / catrinamariee

[Editor's note: Over the next however long, we'll be pondering a few ways to brighten up the hockey world. Sometimes silly, sometimes not: here are our proposals for the 2012-2013 season... whenever that may happen.]

Goals, assists, plus-minus. That’s supposed to be how you tell how good a hockey player is. When a skater’s name pops up on the CSN-Washington chyron, they show goals, assists, and plus-minus. ESPN, Yahoo, and NHL.com place plus-minus among their marquee stats for ranking players. But the more we learn about hockey and statistics, the more we know that plus-minus kind of sucks at measuring talent.

Proposal: This season, let’s throw out the plus-minus stat. In this article I’m gonna tell you why I think plus-minus has gotta go, and I’m gonna pitch a stat to replace it.

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Photo credit: Joel Auerbach

When we last left Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth, he was calling Braden Holtby his weakest competition and patting himself on the back for convincing Tomas Vokoun to go to Pittsburgh. That was just the warm-up.

In the remainder of Neuvirth’s interview with František Suchan of iSportz.Cz, the Czech goalie shares his honest opinion of pretty much every other big-name Capitals figure. He gives Alex Semin the classic “he could have been the best player in the world, but he doesn’t want to” line; he laments Alex Ovechkin‘s decline but praises his leadership; and he sheds no tears over the exit of Dale Hunter.

Hoo boy, here comes some tawdry stuff.

UPDATE: Read our statement on interpretation and translation.

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During TSN’s “Free Agent Frenzy” special on July 1st, a panel including former NHL head coach Marc Crawford and sideline reporter Pierre McGuire lambasted Alex Semin in comparison to Zach Parise. The panel got their paddles out and verbally spanked Sasha thoroughly. Crawford called Semin a “complete loser,” and former player Ray Ferraro labeled any team that might want the former 40-goal scorer as “desperate.” Pierre McGuire capped the discussion by calling Semin a “bad teammate” and the “ultimate coach-killer.”

Crawford, who left for a coaching gig in Switzerland a day after the incident, offered a dubious explanation for his words last week to the German language newspaper Tages Anzeiger, saying that he was “misinterpreted.”

Now, thanks to a great find from reader @zuc0, we have more context on Pierre’s statements– right from the horse’s ass’s mouth. On July 2nd’s episode of XM home ice, McGuire explained why he thought Semin was such a bad teammate.

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Photo credit: Getty Images/NHL

On a fairly tame July 1st this year, the most notable thing that happened on the first day of free agency was not a player signing, but TSN opening fire on free agent Alex Semin with what bordered on xenophobic hate speech. The worst offender, former NHL Head Coach Marc Crawford, called Semin “a complete loser” and said that he had “no character”. If you haven’t seen the video, it’s worth reviewing here.

The next day, Crawford did us all a favor and left the continent, accepting a head coaching position with the ZSC [Zurich] Lions in Switzerland. Hooray! We thought we’d never have to watch him on TV or hear his commentary ever again.

We were wrong.

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BREAKING: Alex Semin has signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. We’ve said our goodbyes, shared our favorite memories of Semin. We even stood outside his window, blasting Peter Gabriel from a boombox, but nothing could make him stay.

Semin will get a $300k raise on his salary from 2011-12, when he scored 21 goals in 77 games. Semin will wear #28 in Carolina, and we can expect him to share ice time with Jordan Staal.

Follow us past the jump to watch our final farewell to Sasha, a video montage by Max Duchaine.

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Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

One of the remaining mysteries of this free agency season is what will be done with the elite-scoring, media-baffling Alex Semin. Now that Suter and Parise have picked their fates and signed their contracts, Semin is the remaining conspicuous free agent. Rumors abound that Semin is looking for a long-term deal, only to be rebuffed because GMs like Carolina’s Jim Rutherford have “heard the stories about him.”

Meanwhile, the Capitals inchoate lineup for 2012-13 lacks at least one top-six forward. Now, Semin’s agent Mark Gandler tells Sovetysky Sport that the Capitals have been asking Semin to come back “all the time.”

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Alex Semin’s agent Mark Gandler did not respond kindly to TSN analyst Marc Crawford’s fair and balanced screed about his client yesterday. He went as far as implying legal action.

“I can tell you that’s the worst I’ve ever heard an analyst say about any player,” Gandler told CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley. “It’s just prejudice, and there is no place for that in the National Hockey League.”

Less than twelve hours after his rant, TSN’s Darren Dreger announced Crawford has accepted a head coaching position with the Zurich ZSC Lions, located in Switzerland.

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