After spending seven years as a left-winger for the Washington Capitals, Alexander Semin has signed a one-year, $7 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. It is likely that "rumors" will begin swirling about how this affects the Shane Doan and Phoenix Coyotes situation. Don’t listen to any of them. Internet rumors, as we have come to learn over the past three years, are total junk.
Semin was one of the marquis free agents heading into the offseason, but many teams were hesitant to sign him because of perceived character issues. According to Mark Gandler, Semin's agent, the Russian winger was not happy with the low amount of minutes he received on the penalty kill and power play. At the end of the season, Gandler went public with the announcement that his client was not happy with his position in the Capitals’ organization. Obviously, that is the sign of somebody who is fishing to be lured away by a gigantic contract. His elite offensive prowess was not lost on anybody, but some people questioned his work ethic and effect on the locker room environment.
This negative stereotype has followed Semin for his entire career. He missed the final game of his rookie season because he overslept and missed the team's flight to Pittsburgh. It got even worse in 2004 during the NHL lockout when he refused to play for the Capital’s AHL affiliate (the Portland Pirates, now the Coyotes’ affiliate team). Instead, he shipped himself back to Russia to play in their Superleague. The problems continued the next year when his Russian "military obligation" kept him out of the country. The Capitals filed a formal complaint against him. Gary Bettman said, "This is a situation where a valid, legally-binding contract is not being honored, and that's not right." A U.S. District Court judge even filed a restraining order for his agent; he was ordered to stop representing Semin to any team other than the Caps. Semin eventually returned to the Caps in early 2006. He went on to become the Capitals’ 5th leading scorer of all time.
Semin will add a considerable amount of firepower to Carolina’s revamped offense. The Canes floundered last year and never seemed to find their footing. This year, with the addition of Jordan Staal and Alex Semin, they hope to turn that around and make a run for the Stanley Cup. However, they have taken a considerable risk by bringing his personality into their locker room.
As for Shane Doan, this signing will likely not affect where he ends up playing. The deciding factor for him will be whether or not Greg Jamison either buys or makes progress towards purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes. However, GM's will certainly feel more pressure to go after Doan now that he is the biggest name winger on the free agent market.
On the bright side for Caps fans, they will finally be able to partake in all of the juvenile puns that the rest of us have enjoyed so much.