SovetskySport today published an interview with Alexander Semin, one day before his 25th birthday. Many thanks again to Dmitry Chesnokov for passing along a translation.
SovSport: You lost to Los Angeles and Boudreau after the game flew by us into the locker room. His [face] was red. Did the players get lectured?
Semin: “There was a good reason. Before the game he explained to us that Los Angeles can break out really well shorthanded. And in that game we gave up eight breakaways against our goalie! Any coach would get mad for it.”
SovSport: We asked the Washington coach Bruce Boudreau to grade you for our series titled “Letters to the National Team.” He praised [you]. But he noted that you have a talent to pick up a silly penalty.
Semin: “This is a bad habit that I have to get rid of. But actually every player has negatives. It happens that you get a lot of penalties but also don’t score much. The game against Montreal is an example. The refs threw me out from the ice and we conceded an important goal taking the game into overtime. I didn’t understand myself why I was penalized. But I improved, brought Washington the victory . . .”
SovSport: Boudreau is often compared [in Russia ] to Vladimir Krikunov because of what he says and how he looks. Do you agree that there are similarities?
Semin: “Nope. I only worked with Krikunov when I was with the National team. But it was enough for me to come to a conclusion that Russian coaches are the strictest. We have different hockey here, upbringing.”
ABOUT RUSSIAN MUSIC IN THE LOCKER ROOM
SovSport: You hang out together. Tell us why you got Fedorov hooked on Timati and Basta [Russian singers]?
Semin: “Actually we got everyone in Washington hooked on Russian music. Now even Brashear listens to Basta. He shakes his head [while listening], embraces our culture. Maybe someone doesn’t like Russian rap. But no one tells Alex and me about that in the locker room. We have been playing that music for two years now. Everyone is used to it.”
ABOUT TED AND ENGLISH
SovSport: Tell us about the Capitals’ owner Ted Leonsis. He is a forward-thinking businessman. Before, he gave every player a laptop to communicate with fans online.
Semin: “It is always [a joy] speaking with him. Leonsis comes to the locker room, jokes a lot. A funny man. Once he gave me a gift as well – two years ago he gave me an audio player with English lessons so I could learn the language quicker.”
SovSport: Did it help?
Semin: “Honestly? No. I haven’t listened to those recordings yet. But thanks for the gift. I liked it. It actually seems that English cannot be learned in theory. Just need to converse with the locals more, that’s all. I used to be shy to talk before. But now everything is alright. Well, if I cannot understand something, should I hit my head against the wall? The most important thing for me is to be understood. And the language is not that important on the ice. It is important to turn your head around better.”
ABOUT THE SCORING RACE
SovSport: Who will win the scoring race and the Art Ross? Ovechkin on Malkin?
Semin: “Evgeni is leading Alex by 10 points, but he also scores and assists in every game. This deficit [in points] can be reduced in reality, but it is very difficult . . . If Malkin and Ovechkin start thinking about the Art Ross, then they will certainly fail. I personally don’t care who will win in their race. The most important thing is for our team to win. It is also nice that there are two Russians leading the league.”
SovSport: Which team would you least want to play in the playoffs?
Semin: ”The Philadelphia Flyers. They are nasty . . .”
SovSport: What do you mean?
Semin: “They are running, knocking around . . . [We don't have] our game with them, but there’s some kind of wrestle. Although last season we had a good chance to pass Philadelphia. Remember? We made it to game 7 in the first round. And then let a goal in overtime. A little bit unlucky.”
ABOUT THE OLYMPICS
SovSport: There are talks that the NHL won’t let players travel to Sochi in 2014.
Semin: ”If they don’t then Russia will win easily. Look, our national team wins every Euro hockey tour’s leg. Who will prove to be a serious competition?”
SovSport: Ovechkin says that he will go to the Sochi Olympics anyway. That it is the dream of his life.
Semin: ”I understand. This opportunity will only happen once in our careers. The NHL is considering whether to fly to the other side of the world, to Sochi, in the very middle of the regular season. But what is it for the Russians? We will be at home. It’s good for us.”
SovSport: And if you have an NHL contract will you breach it to play in Sochi? Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk said something to that effect.
Semin: “If the NHL makes a unified decision that players will not go to Sochi, I think no one will go. They will talk and then will settle down. Is there another way? Contract is your obligation to the team. It must be respected.”