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Alex Semin's agent not closing door on Caps, questions direction

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Alexander Semin is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and it indications over recent months have been that his tenure with the Washington Capitals was coming to an end. But in a phone conversation Tuesday, his agent was not willing to close the door on Semin returning, though he questioned the direction of the team no matter who replaces Dale Hunter as coach.

“Generally Alex was not used on penalty kill, he wasn’t used at the end of the game, and he generally had a very reduced role. He barely played in overtime, barely plays four-on-four. Basically was taken out of the equation. So if another coach comes in, I don’t know how that changes the team direction,” Mark Gandler said. “The team has to change the direction, the organization. And if they choose how they’re going to do business, that’s fine. But Alex is not prepared to continue in this role.”

Gandler said things got a little worse under Hunter than Bruce Boudreau, though he and his client aren’t necessarily waiting for the Caps to name a new coach to decide the next move.

We’re concerned the role that Alex plays in that scheme of things. Obviously if they continue the same path, they’ll choose a coach that subscribes to that philosophy,” Gandler said. “Whoever the coach is going to be is not as important as what the management decides on the direction of the team for the next number of years.”

Gandler said Semin is not considering going to Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, where he could very likely draw a much higher salary than in the NHL. As George McPhee has said about prospect Evgeni Kuznetsov, there is a desire to play in the best league in the world.

“He’s at the peak of his ability, he’s 28 years old,” Gandler said. “Look at his statistics. Alex has been a shining example of a sense of player’s responsibility to his defensive obligations. Look at his plus-minus or look at just the game. He’s always first guy back. He plays great in short-handed situations. He is not a slacker. He doesn’t hang on the red line. He has so much to give to whatever team wants to give him a full-time player role. That’s where we are.”

Semin was fourth on the Caps in plus-minus during the regular season at plus-9. He had a minus-4 rating in the playoffs.

Semin’s camp wants more than just a one-year deal this time, Ganlder said.

“I’m not going to negotiate a deal through the press. But I think it’s suffice to say that we’re looking for a term of years,” he said.

Gandler said any decision about returning to the Caps has several factors, beyond just money and years.

“It all depends on what the management of the team would like to do with the direction of the team, and, then, secondary, it would depend on the offer,” he said. “The term and the amount of money. But first it has to be about hockey. If it’s not going to be satisfying to play, there’s no reason to sign.”

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