Put Peter Bondra in the pro-Alex Semin camp. I had a chance to chat with #12 during Friday night’s 3-1 win over the Wild, and when I asked him how he’d go about coaching the enigmatic winger, how he’d address Semin’s conspicuous inconsistency, the general manager of the Slovakian national team emphasized that he’s seeing significant maturation this season in Semin’s game.
“He’s got to learn the situations of the game still and when he can try [fancy] moves like that,” Bonzai observed, alluding to the failed Semin razzle-dazzle against the Islanders earlier in the week that led to a breakaway score on Jose Theodore.
“He’s better in all areas [of the ice].”
Bondra didn’t refute any of the litany of concerns I identified in Semin’s game, but he stressed the winger’s unique gifts and the improvements he’s seen in the past couple of seasons. He also suggested that hockey players from all cultures have varied learning curves and time tables for their maturation. Bondra noted that he roomed with Semin on the road way back during the Russian winger’s first season in D.C., during the 2003-04 season. Semin played 52 games with the Caps that season, scoring 22 points, but one night he returned to his hotel room 5 minutes past curfew, and Bondra let him know about it.
“I said to him, ‘This is not how it’s done,’ and it never happened again. This is why I think he will learn.”
Peter the Great also told me he believes that Semin’s shot ranks among the very best in the world.
“Only three guys in the world shoot like that — Ovi, [Ilya] Kovalchuk and Semin.”