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Language Fun, Part I

While Caps fans debate what to call Ovechkin and Semin (A-Plus, Alex Squared, A1 and A2, Alexanders the Great, the A-Team, Sevechkin, etc.), and Ted trots out his suggestion (Alex 2.0), I was more interested in their different post-game interviewing styles.

Ovechkin, who has spent one season in the U.S., insists on doing his own interviews, funny quotes be damned. Semin, who also has spent one season in the U.S., uses a translator. On Saturday night, it was Slava Malamud of Sport-Express, a Russian newspaper that "makes its readers feel sporty fashionable keeping them up to date with what everyone is talking about in sports every day." Frankly, that's my goal too. I want you all to feel sporty fashionable.

(Read the paper's game write-up here.)

How, I wondered, could teammates communicate with Semin?

"It's difficult," Brian Sutherby said. "On the ice, I think he understands 'Go,' and obviously, 'Yup Yup!' And he knows his name. So, I mean, if you're yelling at him, I'm sure he figures it out."

And how much English does Semin really speak?

"Almost zip," Glen Hanlon said, an assessment Semin agreed with, through a translator. "We talk in hockey. And between his English and my Russian, we can seem to find a way to get it done."

Hanlon, of course, has coached the Belarusian team in international competitions, so he knows enough Russian "to order a meal," which is pretty good in my book. Plus, his young son is also picking up the language.

"What's green in Russian?" Glen asked him after Saturday's game. "I'll give you a treat if you tell me."

"Zelenie," his son said, and forgive these transliterations, my Russian is a little spotty.

"What's red?" Glen said.

"Krasnie," his son said, thoroughly impressing me, if no one else.

"Daddy, the Capitals won," his son said, proving that he knows what's really important.

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 10, 2006; 9:39 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Wouldn't this be scary: Semin learning English from Craig Laughlin.

Posted by: Tyler Green | October 10, 2006 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Even worse, if he learned it from Joe B.

Posted by: Kim | October 10, 2006 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Any idea if the Caps are doing the same thing with Semin that they did with Ovechkin in order to improve his English? Specifically, is he rooming on the road with a teammate who is fluent in/only speaks English? Ovechkin's English has obviously improved markedly since the beginning of last season, and a lot of people have attributed it to this small measure.

Posted by: Matt C. | October 10, 2006 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I think AO took it upon himself to room with a non-Russkie last year, as opposed to the Caps forcing him. As far as I'm concerned, if AS scores two goals a game, he can speak whatever language he wants.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess. I'm sure his English will come around once he begins to feel more comfortable.

Posted by: Dennis Maruk | October 10, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Is "The Babymakers" too crude for a nickname?

Posted by: Bryan76 | October 10, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Both of the Alex's deserve new nicknames.

So, in continuing along the lines of Pavel Bure's nickname of the Russian Rocket, I give you:

Ovechkin - The Russian Nuke
Semin - The Russian Assassin

Posted by: CapsFan | October 11, 2006 12:54 PM | Report abuse

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