Having covered Alex Semin with the Washington Capitals for several seasons, the Carolina Hurricanes’ decision to
hand him a 5-year contract in 2013 was fraught with potential disaster.
One the one hand, Semin’s line with Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty was downright dominant in 2012-13; at the time of the contract, he led the team with 22 assists and was second in points and plus-minus. Then the injury bug hit, and hit again the following season, when he was limited 65 games, scoring 22 goals.
On the other hand, he’s a player whose motivation and preparedness have been at issue throughout his career. So far this season, it’s been disastrous: One goal in 22 games, several healthy scratches and Coach Bill Peters calling out his effort in what’s been a lost season for the Canes.
From the News & Observer, Peters torched Semin on Tuesday:
Asked Tuesday how frustrating it has been to get so little out of Semin this season, Peters said, "Well, it's not frustrating for me. We just play the guys who dig in and work and play with speed in both directions and play hard. It's not hard."
Peters said he has had several discussions with Semin but said, "Obviously something's not right. Talk is cheap, though, right? We left the lineup the same way we had it in Toronto and Ottawa, for a reason. Back-to-back wins on the road. The goaltender (Anton Khudobin) who was in against Toronto and Ottawa is in again tonight.
"I talk about competitive people being in a competitive environment and we want to win. We are playing our best 20 players in order to win hockey players. That's the lineup. It's not hard."
This was always the risk with Semin. He teases brilliance, promises consistency and then ends up making you pound your head against the wall as he squanders some of the best god-given talent in hockey. There’s nothing “enigmatic” about it: There are those that “dig in and play with speed in both directions and play hard” and then there’s what Semin is in the majority of his games when he’s not doing that.
For what its worth, GM Ron Francis says that the team isn’t looking to sever its relationship with Semin:
"Alex is a part of the Hurricanes and we'll continue to work with him and try to help him be the player we think he can be," Francis said. "Things are different now in the way we are running things and what we expect. Our job is to continue to work with him and get the message through. We think we can do it. We're not giving up on him at all."
The Capitals used to say the same things.