Alexander Semin was invited by Carolina Hurricanes new head coach Bill Peters to “have a seat.” on Friday, announcing essentially that the right-winger could enjoy the upcoming tilt versus the Arizona Coyotes from the sidelines. The team tweeted the sideline invitation at lunchtime:
Coach Peters said he does not expect Alexander Semin to be in the #Canes lineup Saturday with a couple healthy bodies returning.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) October 31, 2014
Semin, the 30-year old Russian has certainly seen better days with the Hurricanes. His start this season has been abysmal. Averaging 43 points in his 2 seasons in Raleigh, Semin has 2 assists for a total of 2 points thus far in the team’s first 8 games. Coming back from off-season wrist surgery, Semin appeared healthy and ready to dive right into Coach Peters’ new system. Everyone on the team started with a clean slate. Apparently for Alexander Semin, the slate has become a little blurry.
Having come from the Washington Capitals where he had 79 points in 2008-09, and 84 points in 2009-10, Alexander Semin has proven he can be an offensive force in the NHL. Drafted by the Capitals in the 1st round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Semin has played 9 seasons in the league. He has been referred to at times as “inconsistent” and that is perhaps accurate. But, in the past 2 seasons in Carolina, Semin has been consistent as a contributor to the offense. Until now.
Alexander Semin and an unsportsmanlike penalty
Perhaps the “last straw” in the mind of Coach Peters was the unsportsmanlike penalty that Alexander Semin took in the 3rd period of last Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Peters was quoted at NHL.com after the game on Semin’s play:
“He’d played enough,” Peters said. “I don’t think we need to take undisciplined penalties when we are trying to dig out of a hole, right? You’re in a hole. Quit digging.”
Although not the prolific collector of penalty minutes with the ‘Canes that he was in Washington, (Semin had not collected any before Tuesday night’s call), he has been struggling this season to get his game into what is normal “Alexander Semin” hockey.
Coach Peters agrees as mentioned in Friday’s Raleigh News & Observer, “I made the decision that I think is best for the individual and for the team. We want (Semin) to be a part of it and we want (Semin) to be a big part of it. We want him to play the game hard and play the game properly and play the game with pace and live up to his ability and his potential. In order to do that, you’ve got to put the work in and you’ve got to be mentally and physically engaged in what you’re doing.”
Not playing with pace jumps out at me as the gist of what is currently lacking in Alexander Semin’s game. Is he tired? Is he fully recovered medically or trying to play safe? Has he decided that the 5-year, $35 million contract extension he signed last March gives him a green light to not play as hard? Nobody can say for sure what is going on in the mind of Alexander Semin. Hurricanes fans can hope that being benched by the coach will light a fire under him that will spark his offensive, and make him once again a significant contributor to the team.
While Alexander Semin is having a seat
Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Dwyer should be back on the ice. I’m really excited to see both of these guys get healthy.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) October 31, 2014
Dwyer has been out for some time, Gerbe not as long. Both returning from lower-body injuries should be very positive for the Hurricanes. As I’ve written before, I’ve yet to see anyone outwork and hustle more than Nathan Gerbe. The 27-year old former Buffalo Sabre equaled his career-high points total last season at 31. His contributions are often so much more than what stat lines reveal, as he works hard on every shift, never giving up on the puck or the play.
Patrick Dwyer has missed 6 games this season, having been on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. He has never been one to light the lamp dramatically, but has a history of being a consistent part of the team’s offense. Like Gerbe, Dwyer has a strong work ethic, and will bring a veteran influence back to the ice that Carolina has missed so far this season. His injury, along with Gerbe’s, Jordan Staal’s, Jeff Skinner’s and Eric Staal’s have combined to contribute greatly to the team’s struggles thus far. Fans are hopeful that Dwyer’s return will be another missing piece back in place to help get their team in the win column.
Since Dwyer has been out for a while, a little remembrance is in order:
Digging a hole a ditch or a trench?
As mentioned before in regard to Alexander Semin and his unsportsmanlike penalty, Coach Peters said, “You’re in a hole. Quit digging.” Coincidentally, General Manager/Executive Vice-President Ron Francis made the same analogy on Thursday. In Raleigh, the latest vernacular for the ‘Canes predicament is likened to a hole, or a ditch, or perhaps a trench. To be fair, neither Peters or Francis has voiced “ditch” or “trench.” They said “hole.” So at this point in time, with zero wins and 2 points after 8 games, the Carolina Hurricanes are officially in a hole.
"We’re in a hole, and we’ve got to stop digging & figure a way to make ourselves better." GM Ron Francis Weighs In: http://t.co/mkEEgXKAzS
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) October 30, 2014
This is important because a ditch or a trench could signify that things are a hole lot worse than just being in a hole. A hole is easier gotten out of, at least if it is not too deep. Being in a ditch or a trench implies that help may be needed to extricate oneself from that position. In hockey terms, it may be time for trading or cleaning house. Francis was quoted at www.mynhltraderumors.com as saying,
“Nobody is really looking to make a hockey trade at this point, more to move bad contracts or things in our eyes that don’t make sense for us. “
Regarding Eric Staal he said, “I’ve not had any conversations with anybody regarding Eric this season.” It appears that all the talk from earlier in the week about Staal was just talk. The interesting thing is that Francis said he has received calls. Other general managers might be seeing the Hurricanes in a ditch or a trench where Francis only sees a hole. If the team does not get out of the hole soon, Francis may agree and start paying attention to some of those calls.
As Alexander Semin is seated,
his teammates while be facing off against the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night, followed by the Los Angeles Kings Sunday afternoon. The weekend games at home affords the ‘Canes an opportunity to make some progress towards getting the team some positive momentum. The quest for wins and points has proved elusive so far. Let’s hope Carolina can starting climbing out of the hole, and that Alexander Semin will quickly grow tired of his sideline view. Getting him back to form is crucial to that quest.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.