Sunday, 8 July 2012

Take The Money And Run

If there's one player whose summer is starting to turn into a dramatic case of securing a job, it has to be that of Alexander Semin. No matter which analyst speaks about Semin, the term "lazy" seems to creep into the conversation. While he has world-class talent, it's more about getting him to show that talent than it is about him being lazy. Sure, he floats a lot of the time, but there's no doubt that Semin can be a game-changer if he wants to be. But therein lies the problem, and it may be the reason NHL teams are shying way from the enigmatic winger.

You can call anything you want, but I tend to call it "Alexei Yashin Syndrome" - the ability to go invisible when your team needs you the most. There are lots of players who get shutdown by an opposing player, and that's not what I'm referring to when I say Alexander Semin has Alexei Yashin Syndrome. Instead, Semin consistently falls short of expectations when he has shown that he has the potential to surpass them. It's difficult to watch, but there may be a silver lining for Semin after North American critics have basically written him off this summer.

While a few NHL teams have kicked his tires, it seems that the prevailing reports have Semin being offered a three-year deal worth a reported $30 million from CSKA Moscow. That's ludicrous money, but obviously CSKA Moscow thinks they can get Semin back to the level at which he's occasionally shown he can play. If they can, good for them as Semin will certainly help generate a return on their investment in him, but it appears that Semin is waiting for an NHL offer.

Semin made $6.7 million last season with Washington. I'm going to go on record right now and say that he won't get anything close to that amount from an NHL team this season unless someone is overly desperate for a possible game-breaking forward. There are teams that have that kind of cap space, but there's absolutely no NHL team that seems that desperate to throw that kind of money at Semin at this point.

So here's my advice to Alexander Semin: take the money and run.

Even if the CSKA offer is half of what the reported amount is, it will still be significantly more than what Semin will make in the NHL this season. His reputation on this continent is nearly irreparable at this point thanks to the talking heads on television, so he should start fresh over in Moscow and begin to show that he's capable of leading a team for at least a shortened season or two. Scouts can keep an eye on him, and perhaps he can make a triumphant return to the NHL after his stint in the KHL.

I'm not saying that an NHL team won't sign him, but his stock has diminished quite a bit since the end of the season. As long as the word "lazy" keeps coming up in any conversation about him, it will take quite a pitch for a team to take a flyer on him. If there's a standing offer in the KHL for a significant amount, I'm not sure why Semin hasn't signed the contract yet.

Take the money and run. Work your tail off in Moscow to erase the "lazy" comments. Come back to the NHL and play hard. After all, it was only a couple of years ago when Evgeni Malkin was called "lazy". His commitment to working hard in Russia after his knee injury was the turning point in his recovery and his play last season. The result? The Art Ross, the Hart, and the Ted Lindsay Trophies to add to his mantle.

I'm not saying that one off-season of hard work will change the way that Alexander Semin is perceived in North America. However, if he leaves for a season or two and turns the corner regarding his work ethic, he could return and wow everyone much in the same way that Malkin wowed everyone this past season. Sure, it's an extreme move, but it might be the best way to repair Semin's reputation.

The money is good, the opportunity is great, and the chance to prove his harshest critics remains on the table. Personally, if I were Alexander Semin, I'd take the money and run if only to repair his reputation in North America.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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