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Semin Not Practicing (Again)

Alexander Semin is not practicing today. I have to say I'm getting a little concerned. He hasn't skated since the Carolina game, when he apparently aggravated his sprained right ankle. I haven't talked to George McPhee yet, but I would be surprised if Semin plays this weekend.

Anyone who's ever had a badly sprained ankle knows that it's not only painful, but it also can take several weeks (or longer) before it feels 100 percent.

Matt Bradley, meantime, is again skating in Semin's place alongside Michael Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom.

Update: Comcast SportsNet is here shooting several commercials with Ovechkin, Backstrom and Clark. Not sure what the theme is, but it's got a training room backdrop.

Update:John Thompson and Brian Mitchell are here chatting with McPhee and Ted Leonsis on that little overhang above the benches. And just yesterday, two Canada-based radio stations called to talk to me. Is the Caps' bandwagon already starting to warm up?

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 10, 2007; 10:43 AM ET
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Next: Practice Update


I'm a DC ex-pat, living in Ottawa. There's been a bit of buzz about the Caps here. Most Sens fans were impressed by their preseason showings against the Sens and aren't all that surprised that they are 3-0.

It's welcome change in attitude.....I've taken a lot of ribbing for being a Caps fan.

Posted by: C-Way | October 10, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Hey Ya'll, guess what?! If the season ended today the Caps would have the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference and would face Toronto.

Gosh, that is just as bad as listening to the ABC announcers during a NASCAR race stating that "if the race ended right now, so and so would win the championship".

The Caps are off to a great start, best in recent years. We have 79 games left, but I'm sure we'll be in the playoffs coming the end of the season.

Posted by: Mitch | October 10, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I think with Kettler located in Arlington and with the Caps starting off the season so well I think alot of media types will be at Kettler this year, and Tarik since you are the beat writer You and Corey (Times) could be getting alot of phone calls.

I know its early but I think this is great and there is nothing like being a Caps fan right now! After watching the last 5 seasons and going thru the re-build, The team and organization and the fans derserve this!!

Hope Semin will be ok!!

Posted by: DB | October 10, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse


I heard that Leonsis signed a contract with COMCAST to broadcast games in HD. Unfortunately most of the Capital fans reside in Fairfax County where Cox Cable has a stranglehold. Have you heard from the Capitals camp whether they are working with Comcast to see about broadcasting Caps games on Comcast HD under the Cox Cable provider?

Posted by: blankn1612 | October 10, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I'll check about the HD issue, but I've got to be honest, most of the people I deal with are at the games with me and know very little about the TV stuff. I'll ask.

Posted by: Tarik | October 10, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

It is amazing that Cox doesn't carry CSN-HD. As a dish owner, I just wish that CSN would start to carry Caps road games in HD. NESN does it for the Bruins. FSC has started broadcasting Canes and Peds road games in HD as well. Having as many games as possible in HD would help increase the fan base becasue HD DOES make a difference.

Posted by: Tshombe | October 10, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I have CSN and Versus in HD

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the great info, as always. I hope that if Semin is unable to play this weekend, that it's Chris Bourque who gets a callup to play on the second line. I'd like to see what he could do with some skilled players, although I guess playing Bradley there would be the "safer" option.

Posted by: Nick | October 10, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Most of the caps fans live in fairfax county? News to this Marylander....

Posted by: Brandon | October 10, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

as much as i love the caps start, this bandwagon crap is going to piss me off. stay away and let us win quietly in peace

Posted by: maaaaaan | October 10, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

and what is going on with semin, terrible pp will continue without him unless he jumbles the lines

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse


I heard your interview last night on XM radio. It's always interesting to hear what is said about the Caps when addressing a market outside the DC area. I feel as though people can be a little more candid about subjects that they have to be careful addressing to the local fan base.

Regarding your comment about Alex Ovetchkin in 5 years when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, do you think he'll dart for the first big offer that comes along, or will there be a sense of loyalty to the Caps team/management for everything they've done for him.

I think that the deal he gets/accepts later this season will be a good indication of his intentions for the future. Does he accept a bit less to enhance the team around him, or does he go for the biggest contract he can get (read: Sydney!!!)

Posted by: Don | October 10, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I would rather see the bandwagon fans fill out the Verizon Center for the Caps v Pens game, than the away fans

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse


Will the management appreciate what Ovechkin has been doing for them?!

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, both sides benefit (and Managment should reward him for that); however, as a selfish fan, I'd hate to see Ovechkin leave DC in the prime of his career.

Posted by: Don | October 10, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Ovechkin is not going anywhere. But he is not cheap. Let's accept that.

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

OV is actually in a pretty good situation contract wise. Yes, his rights are owned for a few years, but if the Caps try to lowball him they should know that someone is going to come along and give him crazy money as a RFA.

With the contracts thrown around this past off-season, to lesser players, OV would almost certainly get 9 mil a season from someone. Then it's up to the Caps to open the wallet and pay (this is all assuming a deal doesn't get done before hand). Personally, I think the Caps will get a deal done before FA starts.

Posted by: Jeff | October 10, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Jeff. I see Toronto giving Ovechkin a nice offer sheet next season should GMGM and Ted, for some crazy reason, not sign Alex until then.

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Another factor in re-signing would have to be how well the team's doing. If it's doing as well as we all anticipate/hope it will this year and those following, it makes any decision to leave that much harder.

Money's nice but the Cup's nicer.

Posted by: keef | October 10, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm not surprised BMitch and the Coach are there. With Al, they actually talk about and take an interest in hockey. Now if Steve and Andy were there, that wouldn't be a sign that the bandwagon is warming up, it would be a sign of the apocolypse.

Posted by: dave | October 10, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I know the Caps have made some stupid moves in the past, but I really don't see them making a low offer to Ovechkin.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully the commercials CSN are shooting are actually decent. The tattoo one doesn't do it all for me to say the least. I know if I weren't a fan, that commercial would not make me jump off my couch to go buy tickets. They need to show incredible goals, hitting, and fighting to get people's attention. Whatever happened to the "Line Change" commercial at the urinals that they had back in the day of Ron Wilson. That was an excellent commercial!

Posted by: Don-ald | October 10, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I could see OV getting something similar to Heatley in Ott. Thier scoring numbers are very similar over the past few seasons, though OV is much more physical.... I think Heatley got around 7.5 a season. We'll see. I can't imagine management doing anything to mess that relationship up. They will loose any new fans and probably some really die-hard ones too.

Posted by: cs | October 10, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I think Ovechkin's numbers will be similar to Crosby's and not Heatley's. $7.5 mil per will be too low for Ovechkin.

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse


The Caps dont play until Friday, dont you think that if Semin has an ankle problem that he should stay off the ice??

It makes no sense to practice on a sprained ankle, rest is the best thing for that.

Posted by: TJ | October 10, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Finn - wouldnt suprise me if he got crosby deal. I'm sure his agent (whoever that will be) will certainly try. Crosby signed his deal as the MVP and Pearson winner. Not sure how they decide these things.

Posted by: cs | October 10, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse


So Ovechkin can wait this year and sign as the League MVP (I am sure he will be). It's just a question of time

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't that be great!! If management were smart they would lock this guy up now.
It's hard to take 2 players in the nhl and match them for salaries. Salary arbitrations demonstrates this... Ovechkin is a totally different type of player than Crosby - but IMO - OV is the one I would rather have because he can do it all... I hope OV gets a great deal, he deserves it.

Posted by: cs | October 10, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

If I were in the Caps front office I'd try to get a deal done around 8 mil. A bit less than Crosby, but definitely not lowballing and maybe a tad bit of a home-town discount but at the same time absolutely trying to give OV what he's worth. Heatley is a great player (@ 7.5 mil per), but I'd take OV any day of the week.

The entire salary cap thing hasn't really done much to stop spending. I think what we will see happen over the next few years is getting rid of the 1.5-3 million dollar contracts. Spend that money on the top end guys, and fill the roster with youth.

Posted by: Jeff | October 10, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

One thing we know for sure, it won't be Kornheiser driving THIS bandwagon! Mr. Tony wouldn't know a hockey puck if it hit him in the face.

Posted by: Chris in SS | October 10, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, would completely welcome a bandwagon full of blindly enthusiastic, people rooting for the Capitals - perhaps even delusional degree (ala Buffalo last year). If they come to the F Street Arena and go apes*** for the Caps, I welcome them all with open arms.

Posted by: Goat | October 10, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I am still not sure about offering him less than what Crosby was offered. If the argument is made that Crosby won the MVP etc, I, if I was Ovechkin, would not sign anything until the end of the season. Ovechkin has a great chance to win more titles that Crosby did last year with the support around him this year (Kozlov has been impressive). Thus, I think the "Crosby MVP" argument is BS. Ovechkin will win it this year. Mark my words. So what will the argument for offering him less than the crybaby be then?

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Finn, I completely understand your argument, but while an MVP may be in OV's future (this season), the points title likely will not be. I think OV has a shot for the Richard, but with his improved all around game I don't see him putting up much more than 100 points this season.

An MVP will help his argument for Crosby-esq money, but you also do have to remember that Crosby arguably saved the Pens from moving to Kansas City. While OV has made a difference with an increase in fans/tickets, and likely will yield a much better season this year than last, I'm not sure that OV without winning all the awards has an argument to be paid more than Crosby.

I very much dislike Crosby, and really dislike his personality and all his whining, but he is simply a great hockey player. I'd take OV over Crosby, especially with the makeup of this team, but I'm not sure OV (as of today) has the argument to get the same $ as Crosby. If he feels he deserves it then by all means, wait until the end of the season and "earn" it. I say today he deserves 8 the end of the season I sure hope he has proven to deserve more than Crosby.

Posted by: Jeff | October 10, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

One other thing. Someone made a comment about "Mr. Tony wouldn't know a hockey puck if it hit him in the face." I was watching PTI the other day when they had their NHL preview show (and by show, I mean a 90 second segment), and Wilbon "called Tony out" saying that Tony goes to about 10 Caps games a year. No idea if this is true or not, but Tony more or less said it was. Just because he doesn't write about hockey doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't like hockey...we all know how much respect hockey has had in the past few years in the local papers.

Posted by: Jeff | October 10, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Kornheiser is an idiot. How this guy makes a living is beyond me. Apparently, any knucklehead here could get a job in sports journalism if Tony can do it. After all the smack he's talked about hockey, he goes to 10 games a year? He's as good as Craig, patron of stall #6.

As for bandwagons, we all knew it was going to be that type of coverage. I'm just surprised that it only took 3 wins in a row to do it. Sad.

Posted by: 007 | October 10, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse


This sounds like the Oilers' $0.5 mil argument with Smyth. If you're willing to pay Ovechkin $8 mil, shoudl the $0.7 mil extra be a problem? Ovechkin should stand his ground. Ovechkin is the Washington Capitals. Did you read Ted's blog and all the excitement about merchendise sales going through the roof? With all due respect, it's not because of Clark or Kolzig. Ovechkin brings more than the $0.7 mil to this club. Trust me, there will be a team that will pay him that $0.7 mil if the Caps don't. I hope they realize it, and we all will enjoy Alex's game for years to come.

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying the Caps say "Alex, here is 8 mil -- take or leave it." What I'm saying is with the salary cap, and all the young guys on this team, 700k could be important down the road. All I'm suggesting is that you shouldn't just give him the same as Crosby because that's what he wants.

Think of it this way. If you want a raise because a co-worker is making more than you, you would likely need to make an argument as to why you are worth what that guy is making. As of today, Ovechkin doesn't have the #'s or awards to make the argument he is worth 8.7 million (in MY opinion). By the end of the season that could be very different.

Posted by: Jeff | October 10, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I am trying to explain to you that goals, points etc is not everything! Ovechkin can argue that he is the face of the Washington Capitals. Ted knows that he won't sell as many tickets and merchendise with a 38 year old goalie. I think Ovechkin deserves more than Crosby. For economic reasons.

P.S. If my co-worker has the same duties you're damn right I'd want the same money. Bonus is where his performace is evaluated. I don't think any employer would want to mess with the EEOC.

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

And hey, that $0.5 mil was very important for Edmonton. Look at them now. No one wants to play there. Let's not follow suit

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I dunno. I remember that WP magazine article about Ovie a few years ago implied that Ovechkin's mom cares more about the money. And since she's currently doing the negiotiating, Ted and GMGM need to start at Crosby's contract.

As for TK, he's always said that a LIVE hockey game is great. He just loves to mouth the standard stereotypes when it comes to all sports. He is ESPN personified.

Posted by: tallbear | October 10, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

the day ovechkin leaves the caps to play somewhere else in the league is my last day as a caps fan.

Posted by: sign ovechkin now | October 10, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

You think Oveckin is more valuable to the Capitals franchise than Crosby is to the Pens? Which team was essentially bankrupt and about to move to Kansas City? Before Crosby the Pens had about 11k per the end of last season the Pens were selling out every home game (17k per game). Crosby is the face of the NHL, so you can just imagine how he is marketed in Pittsburgh. OV is definitely important to the success of the Capitals, but I don't think you can argue that he is more valuable economically to the Caps than Crosby is to the Pens.

Now, in all reality, we all know that winning is what is going to increase the season ticket holders...and OV is obviously a huge part of that. The last thing I am suggesting is that we don't need OV or anything of the sort -- I was just responding to your point that OV should hold out to get his money until after he earns the MVP and all this season.

Very valid point about nobody wanting to play in Edmonton...tho I'm not sure how much of that is the Smyth decision, and how much of it is because IT IS EDMONTON. :-)

Posted by: Jeff | October 10, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Crosby is forcefed to all. Who says that he is the face of the NHL? The NHL itself? Some even wanted to change the "rookie of the year" age restrictions to have it all wrapped up for Crosby. And yes, Ovechkin IS more valuable to the Caps than Crosby is for the Pens, IMHO.
Why shouldn't Ovechkin hold out for everything he deserves? Heck, if Vanek can get $7m, Ovechkin should get $10. From his point of view, if the Caps don't put a good offer on the table, wait until next summer. There will be a GM in the NHL who will offer Ovechkin MORE than what Crosby got. What will we say then? A lot of people will start jumping on GMGM and Ted for not signing Ovechkin earlier for the fair "Crosby-esq" money.

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Re: Crosby = the face of the NHL. The NHL uses him as one of the primary faces. That has nothing to do with what people want -- it's what THEY have chosen to do.

I agree that OV should do what is best for him...and if he isn't getting what he deserves then he should hold out to get it. I am not disputing that point. For that matter, maybe he already IS being offered Crosby money and doesn't want to accept it because he wants more. We really don't know how far along the discussions are.

My opinion is, that as of today, he is not worth Crosby money. That's all.

I am curious why you think OV is more valuable to the Caps than Crosby to the Pens (economically). I made my opinion based upon the dramatic increase in attendence from before Crosby to after Crosby. That increase is not present in DC with OV. I can't find anything more recent than Feb 2007, but Crosby was rated #2 in jersey sales behind on Forsberg. OV might be higher now (I don't think he is, but he might be), but you also have to consider the new Caps jerseys as playing a role in OV jersey sales.

Posted by: Jeff | October 10, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

The NHL picked Crosby because he is Canadian. Ovechkin has a MUCH better personality to promote the sport. Ask ANYONE who ever worked in hockey. You can start with Tarik.

I will revert on your other questions

Posted by: Finn | October 10, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Ovechkin definitely is more down to earth and definitely more "human" (at least from the quotes and interviews I've seen from both of them). I also think that Ovechkin would be a better spokesperson for the NHL for drawing non hockey fans than Crosby if OV is/was used properly. Too bad the NHL doesn't agree -- just one more bad decision to add to the list.

Hell, even in the OV/Crosby room-service commercial OV (in my opinion, which is without a doubt slanted towards OV) was the better actor and was more believable, and he is still learning the language.

Posted by: Jeff | October 10, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't think there is any doubt that, if you give Gary Bettman truth serum, he would say the NHL wishes that they had Ovechkin in a North American body to promote. Golden boy Crosby has all the personality of an after dinner mint.

Posted by: Joe | October 10, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Kind of amazing how a blog post that barely mentions the guy has spawned a comment thread about how much Ovechkin's contract should be worth, in most cases in comparison to Crosby.

Posted by: Goat | October 11, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Crosby has that look that people like- he's North American, says all the right get the idea. Not at all controversial or offensive, and probably has that broad appeal the NHL is looking for. Given a choice though, I'd watch Ovechkin every day though because you never know what he'll do and he does everything so damn well.

Other than being cold, Edmonton is actually a very nice place to live. A vibrant community who love their team, and good people (ask anyone except for folks from Calgary!).

I cannot imagine that the Caps would not resign Ovechkin; he'd be worth breaking the bank on (because even if you got five 1st round picks, none of them will be that good; "maybe" Tavares comes close in 2009).

Kornheiser and Wilbon do not bear mentioning.

Posted by: Patrick | October 12, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

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