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Why Alex Semin decided to play virtually for free in Russian minor league during NHL lockout

Dmitry Chesnokov
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Alexander Semin has one of the most unfavorable reps in the NHL, whether he deserves it or not. Who can forget Marc Crawford and Pierre McGuire ranting about him and throwing strong words when talking about Semin this summer?

In the last few days, quite a few of his countrymen went to play in Russia while the negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA over a new CBA are ongoing. Semin was linked to a few clubs in the KHL, but decided to take a different route.

On Tuesday morning, the Russian Major Hockey League (a farm league for KHL clubs) announced that Alexander Semin agreed on a contract to play for Sokol, a team based in his home town.

In the press release the team said Semin "will play a few games for Sokol Krasnoyarsk," and will make his debut on Sept. 28.

"I just wanted to be at home a little more. And then the possibility came after the lockout was announced in the NHL. I decided to stay in Krasnoyarsk. That's all. My family was surprised at first, but then became very supporting. Everyone was very happy," he told Pavel Lysenkov of Sovietsky Sport.

"I don't care what anyone says. I made the decision for myself. I am going to play for Sokol. A different question is I don't know how long I will play in Krasnoyarsk."

Semin will play for the club virtually for free, deciding to give back to the city where he grew up and where he started his career.

"My father taught me when I was young: 'You won't hide the money or put it under a pillow. You can put it in the bank where it will be for a few months, and then what?'  I agree with my father," said Semin, who will make about $1,600 US per month, the minimum for VHL.

"Money is not the most important thing in life. Even if I spend the entire season in Krasnoyarsk, it won't be a loss for me."

His new team is happy with the arrangement.

"We are very happy that Alexander Semin agreed to play for our club, " Sokol GM Denis Lugovik said. "We are used to the fact that stars of this magnitude come back to play only for big contracts, that's why Alexander's desire to help his hometown club generates ever greater respect."

I was told that team sponsors will pay premiums to insure Semin's NHL contract.

Semin joins Patrik Berglund of the St. Louis Blues, who will play for Västerås of the Swedish HockeyAllsvenskan league also for free. According to our information, Semin will be free to join a KHL team at any time during his tenure with Sokol.

Which means a reunion with Alex Ovechkin in the KHL playoffs, should the NHL lockout extend that far, wouldn't be out of the question.

"I would like that. Everything is great between Ovechkin and I when it comes to the game. And our relationship is great," Semin said. "I would be only happy if Dynamo comes to me with an offer. I would be happy to consider it. But time will tell what happens in the end..."

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