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Semin Speaks

Caps Coach Glen Hanlon told me last week that he suspects Alexander Semin speaks/understands English better than he lets on.

If you remember my previous entry on the subject, I confronted Semin after the morning skate in Ottawa but was unable to get him to say anything.

Well, now I've got proof that he can.

I was waiting near the dressing room following Tuesday's loss to the Bruins, hoping Alex Ovechkin would come out and talk. As I stood there, Semin walked past with Lawrence Nycholat. Nothing strange about that.

But then my eyes nearly bugged out of my head as Semin turned to Nycholat and asked, with a heavy Russian accent, "What time is practice?"

Suddenly, I was having one of those did-I-just-hear-what-I-thought-I-just-heard moments.

Then came confirmation.

Semin stopped, looked around at a small group of reporters and asked (to no one in particular), "Where is Nate?"

He was looking for Nate Ewell, the Caps director of media relations.

So I said to Semin, "Alexander! Now I know you speak English! Ha!"

But he just winked at me, turned and walked -- very quickly -- down the hallway and through an area that's off limits to media.

So I guess Glen was right. Being able to speak English, and wanting to, are apparently two different things.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 9, 2007; 9:40 AM ET
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C'mon Tarik, you can hardly blame the guy. He had one of the best possible excuses not to talk to reporters; to waste such a gift in this town would be tantamount to treason!

Posted by: Eli | February 9, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Hilarious! Thanks for the great updates Tarik, your coverage makes all the difference.

I cant blame the guy for not speaking to the press, I bet he loves that all the attention is on Ovie and he can sneak out of the locker room.

Posted by: LB | February 9, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm...the primary caps website for buying tickets, indicate that Saturday's game is sold out, yet there are tickets available
Is this a clever ploy by Ted to get the fans used to paying a convenience charge?

Posted by: gvp | February 9, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Teach him to say "Hi Caphcky!"

Posted by: Graham | February 9, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I've had that happen before to gvp. Ticketmaster has a number of seat garunteed to them that can not sell. That's just how business is done.

I always figured Semin could speak English resonably well and was just having a grand ole' time of it fooling around with us.

Posted by: EricS | February 9, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse


As far as Semin goes, i think its great that he is playing coy with you reporters.....we need personalities on this team other than AO.

On a different note, its a rare pleasure to have someone like you covering the caps. After years of being the stepchild franchise in this town, both in TV and print media, you seem to be te first reporter that actually cares about the team, your readers and the sport. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: genotype55 | February 9, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

You do good work, Semin's just being a clown. Ask him what he's going to do if/when he plays in a hockey town and the media follows him to his house......:)

Posted by: caphcky | February 9, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse


It was nice meeting you at practice today. As for Semin, even though it is most likely frustrating for you, it's funny to the rest of us. It sounds like it could be the beginning of a sitcom. You should play this up even more as the year goes by.

Capital Fanatic

Posted by: Capital Fanatic | February 9, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad he's picked up on the language. Its a sign of cognitive ability. The fact hat Jagr speaks like a neanderthal always made me think that he jsut wasn't too bright. His behavior and actions backed that premise up. Frankly, I wouldn't want to talk to the media either. Who actually wants to hang out with vultures?

I'm curious, Tarik, how do stories and posts affect the caps management and players? Do they resent, get angry and avoid you (or any reporter they are unhappy with), treat it like water off a ducks back? I'd love to know.

; )

Posted by: Kerplunk | February 9, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

You know, you could always return the favor to Semin by memorizing, even phonetically, some basic question you're likely to be asking, ("What did Hanlon tell you", "Tell me about that first goal last game") and asking it of him IN RUSSIAN just to see the look on his face. If you bring a recorder, someone else can even translate his answer for you, and when it winds up in the paper all the Caps will think you speak Russian.

Horrorshow, eh? (That, by the way is a phonetic transliteration of how to say "really good" in Russian.)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps he can spell defense?

Spaceeba Balshoye!

Posted by: Lingo | February 9, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

you can complain about the defense but this team for the most part is filled with 21 and 22 year old players from Ovechkin and Semin down to Green and Schultz on the backline. The last thing to come to most NHL forwards with skill is the realization that defense is an important responsibility for them and without it they won't be winning a Cup. That said, Hanlon can talk a good game and I think is a good strategic coach but he needs a veteran player or two on the ice to lead this team and SHOW the younger players how to win. That means investing some dollars in a veteran forward who has tasted success in the NHL and who will come in with automatic respect from the kids. Prior to next year when Backstrom comes to the NHL to provide playmaking at center ice would be the perfect time for the team to pull the trigger and acquire such a veteran.

Posted by: bulldog | February 9, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Haha, great work!

Posted by: Teri | February 9, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Tarik great stuff. Humorous stuff like that is why this blog and others here at WaPo are fast becoming a regular stop. Keep it up!

Posted by: usiel | February 9, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Rather than complaining about Semin's English, or lack thereof, why don't you learn a little Russian? Seems like it would be useful for a hockey writer these days.

Posted by: Joe | February 10, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Why does he suck now? Lately this season he has been playing absolutely horrible and making just huge blunders on the ice. He isnt even scoring or putting up points anymore.

Why does he suck now? Is he injured??

He needs to step it up cuz lately he sucks and thats why this team is LOSING.

Posted by: Problems with Ovechkin lately | February 12, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Hey, when Hanlon says something to Semin, does he reply "me too" ?

Posted by: Borat | February 15, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

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