Posted: 11:59 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014
By Matt Brigidi
Alex Semin is headed to Sochi after he was named as an injury replacement for Team Russia.
Alexander Semin is Sochi bound. After initially being left off the men's ice hockey roster for the 2014 Olympic Games, Semin has been added to the team as an injury replacement, according to Igor Eronko on Tuesday morning.
Semin will be replacing Sergei Soin, who injured his knee while playing for Dynamo Moscow of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. The 31-year-old forward was put on the team for his defensive play, but team president Vladimir Tretiak said that didn't mean Russia would look to fill the void with the same type of player. The decision to pick Semin as his replacement is evidence of that.
Semin's absence from the initial roster announcement drew surprise, as he has proven his ability to be a top-tier talent. However, coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov expressed that he wasn't impressed by Semin's play, via R-Sport:
"We knew that this decision will surprise a lot of people," Bilyaletdinov said. "But we watched a lot of games. I saw him several times. We came to the opinion that for now he doesn't make it onto the roster. He didn't play as we expected, that's why we made this decision."
The biggest surprise is the exclusion of Alexander Semin. It is quite difficult to understand exactly what led to him not making the team. He is picking up his game lately, but, quite interestingly, Bilyaletdinov didn't even speak with Semin when visiting one of the recent Hurricanes' games.
Is there something personal there?
As if that wasn't enough, Carolina manager Jim Rutherford recently expressed disappointment in Semin's play this season:
He came off a great year, and we are all very disappointed with his production at this time. He's a guy who is paid to score goals and put up points, and he hasn't done that. He's trying to play an east-west game when the rest of the team is playing a north-south game, and he needs to get his act going pretty soon... I do think it's the focus and the will to do well. The same will to do well that he had in his contract year. He is probably the most skilled player on this team, and when he wants to play, he can do it. He needs to start."
Semin responded favorably, as he scored two goals later that night and added another the following evening. Now, he's on Team Russia. Maybe things are starting to turn in the right direction for the Carolina forward.