Before this offseason, the Washington Capitals were everything Alexander Semin had experienced in the NHL. After signing a one-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes, Semin’s agent made it clear that his leaving had nothing to do with not liking Washington.
This was about hockey and the need to do more on the ice.
“For Alex professionally he needed a fresh start,” agent Mark Gandler said. “He needed short-handed time, he needed to be in the last minute of the game on the ice, if he deserves it. He wants to have basically an extended role.
“We waited for the last couple years and that did not come. And that is not a problem. That’s the organization’s prerogative, and they did what they felt was in the best interest of the organization. But we also, with the ability to move as a free agent, needed to do what’s best for Alex’s career. And I think this fresh start is going to be very helpful for people to see what Alex brings to the table when they isolate sort of the spotlight on him.”
Semin had the spotlight with the Caps as one of the “Young Guns” and the longest-tenured player on the roster. It’s hard to find a player more polarizing to fans and pundits, but there doesn’t seem to be anything but positive feelings of the past eight seasons.
“I can tell you that the most fond memory and just golden memory of his tenure in Washington are the fans. There’s no question about it that this is a tremendous fan base that’s treated Alex like gold,” Gandler said. “There was just absolutely amazing reception everywhere he went, in Arlington, in D.C. His neighbors, everybody, contractors, everyone who touched on his life, he was tremendously supportive. He will never forget it. There’s no question about it. That was the hardest thing of leaving is the city with its fans, the whole area that was just Caps crazy and who appreciated the talent that Alex has had and appreciated the team even though they were not always successful.”
With the Hurricanes, Semin will be paid even more money ($7 million) this season than he earned for any one year with the Caps. And he’ll be asked to do as much under Kirk Muller as he did at times under Bruce Boudreau: killing penalties and more.
“We all understand that every player has to deserve his ice time. But having said that, yes, they plan to use him in all situations,” Gandler said. “Carolina uses their best players to kill penalties. There is no question about it. So it’s not just a promise. I don’t accept promises of ice time. I just want to know what the intentions are. And the intentions here are to use him in all situations.”
This is a one-year prove-it contract, even with the raise from 2011-12. To prove he deserves a multi-year contract, Seminhas to avoid some past pitfalls, like stick fouls and mental lapses.
“I think he needs to stay consistent, not to get frustrated. Just worry about doing his thing and do what he does best, which is shoot the puck, make plays, play defense, backcheck,” Gandler said. “He just should not get frustrated when things sometimes don’t go his way. That is probably the biggest change that he’d need to make.”