Oh that prescient Alexander Semin! The Jan.6 edition of Sport-Express offers the following recent interview between the normally reticent forward and Slava Malamud. He may have been just joking, but could it be that there was a wee bit of truth to his words?
With the signing of a contract with Alexander Semin, the Washington Capitals have finally put an end to the talk of a possible trade for the Russian forward. Or at the least they've put it off for a year, since that's the length of the contract, which allows Semin to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season. All questions about whether or not two Russian bears will be cramped sharing the same cage (Semin and Alex Ovechkin are, of course, the best of friends, but business is business) will also be decided later. But right now, it's time for hockey, Olympics, and the next run for the Stanley Cup. And finally, a personal view of the situation by Semin himself, specially for Sport-Express.
"The new contract suits me right now" said Semin. "We looked at different variations, but my agent and I decided that one year would be optimal."
Based on what calculation?
"There's no calculations. I'll just play for a year here and then we'll see. Well, I'll be a free agent then, and there will be more options."
Did Washington offer you something longer?
"Yeah, there were different options. The idea of signing a one-year contract was mine and my agent's."
Are you happy to have this behind you now, so you can concentrate on playing out the season?
"Well, I never spent too much time worrying about it. My task is to go out and play, and everything will be fine. Let the agent worry about the money."
How do you account for the team's recent downturn?
"Hockey is the type of game where no single team can play the entire season at the same level. I think it's better that the downturn happens now, rather than later. We'll get past this and by the end of the season everything will be in order."
Are you personally happy with the way you are playing now?
"No, I'm quite unhappy with myself. I just can't catch a break. There are times when I should have scored 100 percent, but the puck just didn't go into the net. If I can just catch a little break I think everything will be alright."
Washington traded your captain for Jason Chimera from Columbus. How has that affected the team?
"It's difficult to say. I mean Chimera is a good player, and he is really fast getting the puck out of the zone...and as for our captain leaving... There's no lack of leaders on our team. Of course Chris Clark could rally the troops, but there are guys that could take his place. Brendan Morrison, for example, or Mike Knuble - these are veterans who know how to get the guys wound up."
So how is the new captain going to be selected? By the coaches or by a vote of the players?
"On this subject, to be perfectly honest, I really don't know. I think the coaches will decide. Who knows, maybe we're losing because a captain hasn't been named? (laughs). No, personally I really don't attach much significance to this. As far as I know, right now they'll choose between Brooks Laich and Ovechkin. But maybe Ovechkin doesn't really need it. It just brings more attention on you. Maybe he prefers to think only about the game and not to have any extra responsibilities, like going and taking things up with the refs."
All of the Olympic teams were announce over the holidays. Were you surprised by anything?
"I was surprised by the Canadians. I don't understand it. Mike Green is the highest scoring defenseman, but he didn't make the team. It seems a player like him isn't what the coaches are looking for. The highest scoring defenseman in the league- and not making it to the Olympics... I think everyone was surprised by this."
Is it almost a sure thing that you and Ovechkin will play on the same line?
"That's up to Vyacheslav Arkadievich (Bykov- ed.) to decide. There's not much longer to wait, just a month and a half. And I'm really happy that Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov made the team. All of the "Washingtonians" will be reunited on the team. It'll be great."