So it looks like Matt Bradley had some parting words for some of his old teammates, namely Alex Semin. The Swordmaiden has the story here in case you missed it. Let's cut through to what counts--forget about what he said about everyone else including the Coach and OV. Semin is the one that has had the biggest target on him since the Caps turned into contenders three seasons ago. All you have to do is look at the numbers to see why. In his five seasons, his goal totals are: 38, 26, 34, 40, and 28. Good numbers for a journeyman, bad for someone like Semin who came in with high expectations. His playoff numbers are even worse as of late, though he improved on his abysmal performance of 2010 this past season.
I'll sum up Bradley's comments in one sentence: Everyone's thinking it, he's just saying it.
We Caps fans are all aware that when Semin is "on" he is untouchable, easily the best player on the ice from the offensive blueline to the goal line. Even better than Ovechkin as his shot is just about guaranteed to tuck underneath the sweet spot under the crossbar and the goalie's shoulders. That there is my favorite aspect of Semin's game. When "Good Sasha" shows up, no one can touch him, and he needs no help, especially on the power play.
But enough of the good. We all know what the knock on Semin always has been--his heart, or lack thereof. We've seen it time and again, whether it was the 2010 playoffs, an extended drought following an injury in 2008, or just other frustrating fits and starts in production. What is a bit shocking about Bradley's comments is that this is the first time an ex-teammate (to my knowledge anyway) has publicly taken Semin to task about his lack of desire. Much was made about Jason Arnott and his ability to take someone under his wing and make them better. Last year that someone was #28 and it had some effect, yet another reason I'm still scratching my head about the decision not to offer Arnott a contract. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Speaking of scratching heads, let's discuss another aspect of Semin's game--his emotion. I know what you're thinking. How can he have no heart but have emotion at the same time. Lemme 'splain. The man some of us lovingly refer to as Sasha has a tendency (at the worst of times, no less) to take a really bad penalty simply because he felt wronged on a certain type of play. So while he may not have any heart while the chips are down, he's certainly no robot when it comes to rough play. How about the hit from behind on Dan Boyle in the 2010 Olympics? And, lest we forget this? Yes he does have emotion--which leads to a lack of discipline. Never confuse a lack of discipline for heart. Some players have both. Semin does not.
To close let's use the ultimate yardstick. No, I don't mean goals. I'm talking dollars. What were you thinking this is Washington D.C.--EVERYTHING comes down to dollars here! Semin's contract is a $6.7 million cap hit, and as we all know, the Caps are a chandelier on the salary cap ceiling. At this point, nothing short of a 50-goal season would bring another year's extension. With five other UFAs and John Carlson and Mike green to try to re-sign? Don't bet on it. Semin's never given us his money's worth come April and he's not about to start. The chances are we'll be looking for more help on the backline anyway. The smart money will be on Sasha, Good or Bad, being dangled as trade bait by around the deadline or even the All-Star break. There's bound to be somebody looking for offensive help willing to part with some valued asset in order to get him. The last questions will be what that asset will be and will it be worth getting for what might have been.
Do svidaniya, Sasha...it was fun while it lasted.