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Capitals’ Mike Knuble defends Matt Bradley, praises Alexander Semin’s talent

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Wednesday morning, some disparaging comments from former tough guy Matt Bradley about the Washington Capitals' playoff exit and Alexander Semin caused some controversy. Bradley questioned how playing time is divvied up in the playoffs, along with Semin's effort.

Thursday, one of Washington's most respected voices tried to put Bradley's radio interview with Team 1200 in Ottawa into some perspective, when asked via telephone.

"It can't be controlled what he's going to say. I'm sure he didn't mean for it to come out that way and it just kind of did," Knuble said. "Matt's a smart guy, and he understands when he's saying things. I'm sure there's a certain level of regret with that."

Knuble said he was texting with Bradley, who, according to Knuble, admitted that making those comments wasn't the smartest thing for him to do. Bradley, who signed with the Florida Panthers on July 2, was considered a popular player with the Caps, and although many fans didn't decry his comments, some saw it as not taking the high road.

With respect to Semin and Bradley, Knuble did take that high road. He praised Semin's talent and said he wants the Russian winger "to be a great player for selfish reasons," because his production leads to success.

"For me, he's my teammate and I want him to do the best and not because I want him to reach his talents but because I know how talented he is and the better he does the better we do," Knuble said.

While there is perhaps a public perception of Semin as a player who doesn't give 100 percent effort, Knuble said that shouldn't affect his play.

"Whatever fans perceive him — I'm perceived a different way," he said. "I'm sure if you take 10 fans, there will be 10 different perceptions of any player."

Semin shies away from media attention, which might contribute to how fans see him. The language barrier is a big part of that, according to several Caps players who discussed Semin for a story late last season. 

"You want to cut the guy some slack," Knuble said.

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