I met Alexander Semin at the recent honoring of his friend and teammate Alexander Ovechkin in one of the capital's clubs. Back then we didn't have a chance to talk. That was understandable, it was a party. But we agreed to meet on the following day. Semin used to be so taciturn, but now I wouldn't say it. It maybe the result of communicating with the American journalists... [tj: yeah right, ask Tarik... :-)]
"To be honest my English is poor. Far from perfection," admittedly smiles Semin. "Of course I still learn the language. But the most important thing is practice. I am trying to talk with my American and Canadian teammates. Basically I understand what I am told, but to speak, it's still very difficult. And if it is still necessary to give an interview I do it with the help of a translator.
There's a lot to talk about. You are in fact playing in the NHL playoffs for the second consecutive year...
The last season left very good impressions. I scored more points than the year before. Unfortunately the injuries spoiled the results, but you can't avoid them. I was forced to miss about twenty games. In general I am getting better, still have to work on some things. In general I played decently in the playoffs. It is a pity that have not been able to go further. Maybe because of lack of experience, maybe just got tired. A lot of factors to consider. But nothing can happen at once, it goes gradually. Our team is young.
The fact that Washington got to the conference semifinals is already a success...
The bottom line is that we were worthy it. And we played the whole season well. As of playoffs it's a lottery. Whoever has more than luck, the further they'd go.
In Russia a lot was written about Simeon Varlamov...
He is a young guy with a bright future, he helped us a lot. Not every goalie at his age is able to show a confident play, without chickening out, in his very first year in the NHL. There were some games he had won singlehandedly.
You are playing more. Do Coaches believe in you?
Yes, there is something about it. Now I play 22-23 minutes on average. In my first season in Washington I was playing less, for about 19 minutes. If the coach sees that the player shows some results, that he can rely on him, then he wants to see you on the ice more. I can't single out one game, but probably the most memorable game was when I scored in overtime against Boston from the red line.
Do you feel more like one of the Capitals leaders?
Yes. Along with Sasha Ovechkin (smiles). You know how people over the ocean like hockey. The fans know all the players in person. In any place you go they can approach you, welcome you. It takes a while to get used to it. Of course it is nice to see people wearing jerseys with my name. But there are more Ovechkin's jerseys (smiles).
With Sasha you are like twins. Do you help each other?
Of course! Can't live without that. We have played together from the very young age. And it's just so awesome that he was drafted to my team. He is my greatest friend. I would say he is like a brother already. We constantly communicate, always together on the road. We had an awesome team, four Russians! The most Russian team in the NHL! And it really was giving some additional force.
Viktor Kozlov once said that you and Sasha Ovechkin are like two batteries. Jump start all the guys on ice...
Vitya said that? Maybe, from the side one can see better. I have once heard that in Washington everybody are looking at me and Ovechkin. As they say, how we play affects the entire team. If this is really true, it's nice. But I can't say anything about myself on this. The coach gives us the instructions, tells us what needs to be done and we do.
The fact that Viktor Kozlov and Sergei Fedorov left to the KHL, is it a big loss for Washington?
Of course, we will miss them. They were scoring important goals. Very experienced players, what else can you say ...
Why is it that many are surprised by the fact that it was Fedorov who is back in Russia ...
As for to me, it's no surprise. Nothing really can surprise me anymore. People go where it is more profitable, more comfortable. Even during the NHL season there were talks about Sergei continuing his career in Russia.
Can you do this one day?
Honestly I didn't think about it. Every player dreams to play in the NHL. And I had this wish since childhood. And it is certainly hasn't been lost. I have a contract with Washington for another year. And I know how it goes in the KHL, more or less. I phone Zhmakin all the time, talk with other guys. I've heard that the league is getting better. There are people who are interested in its success.
I hope you have received the invitation to the Olympic team?
Yes. I sure will be there. I am very happy that I was invited. I spoke with Bykov and Zakharkin when they were visiting the States during the regular season. So I knew about the pre-olympics camp in advance.
Did you wonder about the roster?
To be honest, I did not. What for? Who will come, will come. To come to the camp is one thing. The Olympics are in February, you have to live to it. Now I feel fine. I've already started training for the upcoming season. Not on the ice yet, but on the ground.
Very soon you'll fly back to the States. By the way, how's your life there?
I fell in love with Washington. Nice, quiet town. My Dad and sister visit me often. My Mom lives with me. So I have no problems at home. Always have something to eat. And I eat everything. Don't follow any diet. I especially like when my mother makes krasnoyarsk's pelmeni. I don't infringe myself. My playing weight is 84 kg [tj: 185 pounds]. And I have not been threatened to gain weight.
You get home, eat, drink, then what?
Go to bed. For a good sleep I need 9 to 10 hours. What else? Sometimes visit odnoklassniki.ru to communicate with my classmates. Actually I have very little free time. It only seems that you have it.
Maybe in the summer ...
In the summer, of course, you have more of it. I've managed to visit Moscow, my native Krasnoyarsk. Last year, we, along with my brother Ovechkin, went to Turkey, this time it didn't happen. I had other friends to relax with. Most of all I love to lay on the beach and swim. I also like to play volleyball, soccer and tennis. So I am also friends with other sports.
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