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Semin Expected to Play

Good crowd out at KCI today. I would say about 200 or so folks showed up for the Caps' final practice of the season.

Those fans didn't get to see Alexander Semin skate -- he's still got a sore foot and a bit of a cold -- but he is expected to play in the finale tomorrow against the Sabres, according to GMGM. Meantime, forward Jakub Klepis was sent down after the practice.

Please don't forget to join me for my weekly online chat at 2 p.m.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 6, 2007; 1:14 PM ET
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Great news about Semin. However, with Datsyuk now out of the picture, the fight for the three top guys left in the FA pool should intensify with the Flyers having their wallets open.

Posted by: Finn | April 6, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget everyone to come out tonight to the Caps Alumni game.

Posted by: FS | April 6, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear Semin is slated to play tomorrow and that Steckel gets another game.

I'm waiting for the GMGM haters to blame Datsyuk's resigning on him, lol.

Posted by: usiel | April 6, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

GMGM has three more chances to screw up

Posted by: Finn | April 6, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I just spilled Coke on my tie, GMGM only has two more chances to screw up.

Posted by: dinoflint | April 6, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I will be at the alumni event tonight.

Tarik: what did management think of Klepis is his last chance of the season?

Posted by: LB | April 6, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

for Finn to offer his positive commentary.

Posted by: that didn't take long | April 6, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse


There have been many comments in this column about Semin taking shifts off and hurting the team. I checked the stats the other day and he has a -6. There are 11 players on the team who have a worse +/-. Perhaps his mistakes are more dramatic or are there other reasons he's received so much criticism?

Thank you.

Posted by: 121k | April 6, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Hanlon is done, Bruce Boudreau will be the new coach of the caps, not Dale Hunter. Bruce will get the job done, and take us to the playoffs next year. BOOK IT.

Posted by: Mike Ridley | April 6, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I kinda agree with the last post. I am surprised that Hanlon was not mentioned on the article about coaches on the hot seat.

Posted by: E | April 6, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I thought the Caps and the Bears playing the same system - at least thats what they claim and why its so easy to bring up guys because its not too different? Seems like if we continue to lose that maybe the system isn't working. Bringing Bruce Boudreau would just change the face behind the bench and not the problem. Unless Boudreau chagnes it up.

Who knows, I hadnt heard any Hanoln romours.

Posted by: cs | April 6, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Any thoughts on top centers that aren't UFA/RFA that could be traded at the end of the season?

Koivu comes to mind if the Habs lose this weekend. Benching your captain at this point in the season doesn't exactly show signs of confidence. Maybe a change in scenery would be good?

Not that I want him here, I'm hoping for Gomez. Just wondering if the top center pool might be larger than 2 or 3 in the offseason?

Posted by: slappy | April 6, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

not sure i would write him off at this point. as tarik has correctly pointed out, what was he supposed to do with this team? seems like most folks feel that he's done about as good as anyone could expect given the youth and inexperience. they were thin at every position except dynamic russian forward. time will tell whether he's the guy for this team. my guess is if the team gets the guys they want this offseason, then he will be given a short rope next season. i don't know much about the hershey coach. he's obviously good given the calder cup win, but i for one am skittish about having another guy with no NHL coaching experience take the reins(the name bruce cassidy, still makes me shake my head).

Posted by: Hanlon | April 6, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Regarding's just like your daily workplace for the most part. Unless you hire a guy named Bruce Cassidy who shows up at the morning meeting with his agenda scrawled on a damn napkin and unable to relate to people on the most basic level, it's about the system.

Companies and people improve when the system makes more sense. When people have the ability to be creative and they know what to expect. You also need to recognize talent and spot the bottlenecks.

For example, Ovechkin has gone 1-on-4 far too much this season. It's not because he's an idiot. It's because the process is broken when his linemates skate at half speed and aren't suited to his play. Getting a top center and RW to complement him will lead to Ovechkin seriously increasing his point total.

One key difference being that in sports the coach is usually responsible for the system. But don't GMs have the opportunity to say "tweak the system or tweak yourself out of here?"

This is about GMGM, which is about Ted. And it's about timing. Those who have paid attention knew all along that this coming season is do or die time.

05-06 = we're rebuilding. Please excuse our dust and hey! look! Ovechkin!

06-07 = we hope to improve and see what the prospects can do. Shucks we have to wait a year on Backstrom.

07-08 = okay half those guys really suck. Now we add the pieces needed to build around half an up-and-coming defense, a good 3rd & 4th line and Ovie & Semin.

I've bought into it because it makes perfect sense. But you can bet your hockey stick that if Ted doesn't come through this season and allow GMGM the free reign to allow Hanlon the chance to prove it and the fans a reason to believe then you're going to see a riot. Or a collective silent scream from in front of the TV screen because the arena will be empty.

I'm cautiously optimistic that Ted has a lick of sense to stick to the plan.

Posted by: Shmoo | April 6, 2007 8:50 PM | Report abuse

I heard Leonsis referred to on a radio show as "our local Bill Bidwell". Perhaps a bit unfair, but not that far off. All the talk about McPhee and Hanlon is nothing if they don't have the resources to work with. And that means Leonsis will have to open his wallet and stop being a penny pincher like he has been since the lockout. I know he got burned by gutless Jagr and "once bitten twice shy." But he has to count on his GM to tell him what players are worth it. And if he doesn't trust his GM to do that, he should get a new GM.

Posted by: Jim | April 7, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Tarik, just wanted to thank you for all of your insights this season. I'm looking forward to the off-season and what GMGM/Ted does to fortify the team, and then the 07/08 season with the new and improved Caps. I really enjoy your 2 pm Friday interactive blog.
Have a great summer.

Posted by: kenhockey | April 7, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse


I know it's been said, but thanks for your dedicated, insightful, and thorough coverage. It's been nothing but a pleasure, even though the subject matter of the material was occasionally painful and disappointing.

Here's to (at least the hope of) a bang-up offseason, five new Caps by September, and a division title followed by a deep playoff run in '08.

I can dream, can't I?


Posted by: HolyOlie | April 7, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for all of the kind words. Don't worry, I'll update blog often during the offseason. There's going to be plenty going on in Caps-land.

Posted by: Tarik | April 7, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Tarik -

Maybe this has been asked before...If the Rangers exercise Jagr's option do the Caps still have to float the $5 Million (or whatever the amount is) for the extra year or are the Rangers on the hook for the whole $11 million? Does their portion go against the Caps' cap?

Posted by: Bubba | April 7, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

pretty sure hes not still making that 11 mill

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Per Wikipedia and other Google searches. Caps have to pay about $4M a year, two years left. One million of the eleven million is deferred with interest. Then his salary was reduced to about $7.5M due to salary cap.

Also (with no documentation) I am very sure the amount the Caps pay towards his salary does NOT count against the salary cap.

Posted by: Dezlboy | April 7, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Tarik -

Many thanks for the great job you did all season, and looking forward to much more this summer. I've looked forward every day to reading your posts. Can't wait for next year!

Posted by: alpca3877 | April 7, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

I enjoyed reading your posts all year and looking foward to reading many more. But in the mean time Tarik take a good long vacation and come talk to us after the Redskins draft day. Cheers

Posted by: stonestom | April 9, 2007 2:40 AM | Report abuse


Great job this year, it has been a blast following the Caps with you and all the passionate people on this blog!


Posted by: LB | April 9, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

If GMGM actually is allowed by Ted to break open the checkbook and can land some impact free agents (and reel in Backstrom), the team may turn the corner.

If GMGM does get to spend and spends wisely though, Glen Hanlon is probably on the Bruce Cassidy employment plan (better be fightin' for a playoff spot at Thanksgiving, or gone before Christmas). Forget about Bruce Boudreau taking over, he develops prospects and does it well. The team will grab an experienced NHL bench boss, if Hanlon and staff can't get it done. The time for teaching is over, and the team will grab someone known for executing strategy and motivation, not teaching, to get the most out of the players.

The Caps can't go into 07-08 without adding two solid, veteran defensemen to supplement the promise of the kids. I think Muir is done and the Eminger Experiment should probably wrap up as well. Schultz and Green have passed Eminger on the prospect meter, and the team seems to be interested in keeping Jurcina and Morrisonn together. Pothier isn't going anywhere and Erksine is an insurance policy player who is a great teacher, when he's healthy.

The team also has to add that Top Line Center (and I don't mean bringing back Zubrus for that role), another wing that can score (who could be Zubrus) and Backstrom. I would expect that Bradley and Clymer are probably done around here. Decisions have to be made about getting ice-time for the prospects (Fehr, Novotny, Fleishmann, Klepis) and there other interesting kids in the pipe right behind them.

If the team brings in fringe free-agents, GMGM may wanna start shopping for a better flak vest. It's probably also time to talk with Olie about another 2-year extension, while the "goalie of the future" development plan kicks into top gear. Johnson and Cassivi are decent backups, but neither is a long-term solution.

Despite the work that needs to be done, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it isn't necessarily a train.

Posted by: NHL Observer | April 9, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

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