Alexander Semin : biography
Alexander Valerevich Semin ( ; born March 3, 1984) is a Russian professional ice hockey player with the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League (NHL). He had previously played for the Washington Capitals.
- Named the NHL's First Star of the Month for October 2008.
Semin was trained in the Traktor Chelyabinsk hockey school and made his professional debut in Russia's second-tier Russian Major League in 2001–02. After scoring 21 goals and eight assists with Chelyabinsk that season, the Washington Capitals selected Semin with their second pick, 13th overall (they selected Steve Eminger with their first pick, 12th overall) in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Remaining in Russia for the subsequent season, he joined Lada Togliatti of the first-tier Russian Superleague (RSL) in 2002–03 and scored 10 goals and seven assists in 47 games.
Semin made his NHL debut in the 2003–04 season, scoring 10 goals and 12 assists in 52 games. However, he missed his team's flight to Pittsburgh when the Capitals closed out their season against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Semin then reported to Maine to play for the American Hockey League's Portland Pirates, where he collected 15 points in four regular season and seven playoff games.
Military duty controversy
During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Semin returned to Russia and played 50 games for Lada Togliatti, scoring 19 goals, assisting on 11 goals, and compiling a plus/minus rating of +15. The Capitals suspended him for that whole season for not reporting to their then-AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates, preferring the club's younger players to play the locked-out season with their farm team. (Alexander Ovechkin, meanwhile, the Capitals' 2004 first-round pick, remained with his Russian club, Dynamo Moscow, because the Capitals felt that he would have been ready to play in the NHL.)
Due to confusion about Semin's obligations to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, which requires all Russian men to serve two years, Semin was not allowed to return to the Capitals when NHL resumed the following season in 2005–06. Russian Armed Forces allow conscripted soldiers who are hockey players to play for professional teams in Russia during their period of service, but they are not allowed to play for teams based in other countries. Other young Russian players, such as Nikolai Zherdev and Alexander Ovechkin, however, were allowed to return to their NHL clubs following the lockout, circumventing any additional military duty they had to serve in Russia.
While Semin's 2004–05 season with Lada was considered his first year of military service, it was arranged for Semin to continue with Lada for his second year of service in 2005–06. Lada is located in the military district into which Semin was drafted, and they were the only team with whom Semin could fulfill his military obligation. He was signed to a tax-free $2 million contract, along with a car and a condo. News about Lada's struggling financial situation early in the season initially offered the Capitals some hope that Semin would join the team after all. It was reported that the Russian team was expected to cut its payroll in half, while Semin was Lada's highest paid player.
On October 26, 2005, Capitals general manager George McPhee announced that the Capitals had filed a complaint against Semin and his agent Mark Gandler. McPhee stated, "We have done everything we could to avoid this step, but we felt we had no choice but to now seek a legal remedy. This filing seeks to compel Alexander Semin's agent and the Russian hockey team Lada Togliatti to return Alex to the Washington Capitals ... We look forward to the resolution of this process so that we can welcome Alex back to the Capitals this season." Likewise, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, "This is a situation where a valid, legally-binding contract is not being honored, and that's not right." U.S. District Court Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. issued a temporary restraining order on November 4, 2005, ordering Gandler and his International Sports Advisors Company to stop representing Semin in contracts with teams other than the Capitals. Due to Lada Togliatti's financial challenges, Lada released Semin, but he instead signed with Russian squad Mytischi Khimik on November 22.
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