When the Russian Hockey Federation announced its roster for next month's Sochi Olympics, there were two surprises. One was the inclusion of 18-year old Dallas Stars rookie Valeri Nichushkin. The other was the absence of Carolina Hurricanes forward Alex Semin's name from the list.
Russian head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov wasn't impressed with Semin's play this season and his six goals and 18 points, while missing a month with a concussion, played a large role into the decision in taking the kid over the vet.
“We knew that this decision will surprise a lot of people,” Bilyaletdinov said. “But we watched a lot of games. I saw him several times. We came to the opinion that for now he doesn’t make it onto the roster. He didn’t play as we expected, that’s why we made this decision.”
“The national team needs a guy with such energy and desire,” Bilyaletdinov said. “I don’t know yet how I will use him, but I have some thoughts. He plays very well in the first line, not always stable.”
Heading into last Tuesday's announcement, Semin had posted nine points in nine games, but that wasn't enough, even with his history of participating in the 2010 Olympics and gold medal-winning World Championship teams in 2008 and 2012.
As our own Dmitry Chesnokov reported last week, when Bilyaletdinov recently attended a Hurricanes game, he didn't even speak to Semin afterward. He must have known his fate was sealed then.
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