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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“I have no idea what I’m talking about.”

The NHL Network was super awesome today. They aired TSN’s three-hour Free Agent Frenzy special, in which there was precious little frenzying. As a result, TSN’s panel of uh, experts– Pierre McGuire, Marc Crawford, Ray Ferraro, and host James Duthie–  had nothing to talk about. So they dumped on former Capital Alex Semin.

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RMNB’s Favorite Memories of Alex Semin

Photo credit: Nick Laham

We’re saying goodbye to Alex Semin this weekend. After seven seasons with the Washington Capitals, Sasha will become a free agent at noon on Sunday. Think of it as tribute to the man or maybe just as part of the grieving process, but we’ve rummaged through the archives and picked out our favorite Alex Semin moments on RMNB.

We hope that this little stroll through the recent history will help you say goodbye to Sasha Minor in the best way possible. Will you get misty-eyed? Maybe. Will you marvel at his preternatural hockey skills? It could happen. Will you shake your head incredulously? Yup, definitely that.

So pour yourself something with ice in it and let’s hop in the wayback machine.

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Goodbye, Alex Semin

Our site is named for Alex Ovechkin, but our soul belongs to Alex Semin.

For nearly a decade we’ve watched rapturously as Alex Semin did his thing. 200+ goals, 32 of them game-winners: the man they call Sasha has been an exemplar of hockey skill in Washington all along. His finesse puts him in company with some of the best ever to play the game. His ability to send a puck careening impossibly to a distant teammates should be studied at NASA. He’s a stoic pro, like The Shootist or maybe Batman. Yeah, let’s go with Batman. That’s cooler.

But now he’s leaving. After seven seasons with the Washington Capitals, Alex Semin will test free agency this Sunday. Where he ends up is anyone’s guess; all we know for sure is that we’ll miss him.

We’ll miss the 54 points he put up this season and the possession dominance he brought along with him, but mostly we’ll just miss Weird Old Sasha Minor: the cigarette-smoking, English-non-speaking, offensive-zone-penalty-committing, bongo-playing lug we all learned to love.

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