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Posted at 11:17 AM ET, 01/28/2011

Wearing my All-Star briefs

By Ryan Cooper

Just a few notes on the weekend’s proceedings and Alexander Semin...

-- I’m a huge fan of the NHL’s new all-star game format. As much as I dislike all-star games (or rather, the practice of evaluating a player’s “worth” by how many all-star games in which they participate), this is a fresh, new take on a really tired format. People love to criticize Commissioner Bettman (most of the time unfairly), but I give the man all the credit in the world for not being afraid to innovate, whether it’s having the players pick the All-Star teams, or having the best internet presence of any of the major sports leagues.

-- That being said, I still don’t plan to watch. I will check in on the skills competition, but All-Star games are inherently dreadful television.

-- Same goes with the AHL All-Star festivities, which are being held in Hershey this year. Honestly, I would love it if the local Comcast affiliate would show more Bears games. I would much rather watch that than the 300th replay of an EPL game or the preponderance of Redskins related talk shows they present.

-- On Alex Semin, I’ve got to say I’m a fan of the deal. He gets a pretty marginal raise ($700k), so he’s basically carrying over the same cap hit next year. It’s a one-year deal, so there’s no long-term commitment to a player that has proven to be skilled, but also maddeningly ineffective.

-- Here are some other players that have a higher cap hit than Alex Semin: Tomas Vanek, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Dany Heatley, Brian Campell, Jason Spezza, Anze Kopitar. Just sayin’.

-- I used to think Jeff Schultz was the most divisive figure in Caps land, but now I’m starting to think it's Semin. In wrestling terms, Schultz was a good barometer between those fans who considered themselves to be “smart” and those fans considered by the “smart” fans to be “marks”. In Semin’s case, even the so-called “smart” fans are divided between those who hate the guy’s guts for what they perceive he lacks in his skillset, and those that think he’s the bees knees for what he brings to the table from that same skillset. The “marks” just hate him anyway because he doesn’t hit people.

Part of me wonders if Semin’s reputation with the fans suffers because of how notoriously “difficult” he is with the media. He’s clearly never been “comfortable” with that role (see the Crosby “dead wood” incident), and by his refusal to embrace English. When you contrast him with Ovechkin, who immediately dedicated himself to learning English and being media “friendly”, it shows you why courting the press is a valuable weapon to have in your arsenal. There’s a tendency in sports to dislike “moody” players (see Belle, Albert or Wallace, Rasheed), and I think Semin suffers from that, especially compared with the ebullient Ovechkin (and even as well as Ovechkin is received by fans, even THAT doesn’t stop the Canadian media from trying to shoot the guy down at every turn).

By Ryan Cooper  | January 28, 2011; 11:17 AM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Ryan Cooper  | Tags:  Capitals, Ryan Cooper  
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Next: The implications of Semin's short-term deal


Athletes have been misquoted and misrepresented so often it is little wonder they don't want to speak to the press. Eddie Murray was given the rep of a sour puss because he refused to speak to the press after his first conversation was treated as I described. So my frustration with Semin has to do with the way he disappears in the playoffs and his inability to stay healthy. If I don't ever read a quote from Semin, I while bravely soldier on. I guess the same can not be said about you Mr. Cooper.
By the way, he talks to his teammates on the bench all the time so Semin has fooled you ink stained wretches into thinking he does not speak the King's English. Good for him.

Posted by: chopin224 | January 31, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I would trade Semin (at his cap hit & contract) for Anze Kopitar (at his cap hit & contract) straight up, right now, without a moment's hesitation.

Posted by: StikSav | January 31, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

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