Alex Semin (Andy Martin. Jr.)

This February, when the “best” hockey players in the world represent their countries in Sochi, Alex Semin will be conspicuously absent from Team Russia. And that’s a travesty.

The Winter Olympics only come around once every four years. So it seems kind of odd that a large number of countries have selected their national team based heavily on what a player has done in 2013-14 as opposed to their career body of work. Some teams — Canada — are highly competitive and arguing over the difference between Logan Couture and James Neal are essentially splitting hairs. Team Russia, on the other hand, isn’t as talented.

So why then did they leave off one of their best players in Semin? It’s arguably the most egregious omission of the entire tournament.

A year ago, Semin was one of the best players in the world, let alone Russian NHLers, and few outside of Raleigh imagined he could achieve such a renaissance with the Carolina Hurricanes. Only 21 players recorded at least a point per game, and Semin, along with Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and Pavel Datsyuk were the only Russians to do so.

Okay, so maybe you don’t want to put too much stock into one year. How about the last several?

Over the last 4 years, Semin ranks 5th in even-strength points per 60 minutes among skaters who have played at least 1,000 minutes. He’s enjoyed more success than anyone but Malkin, Sidney Crosby and the Sedin twins — some company. As much as Ovechkin’s goal scoring gets talked about in hockey circles, Semin is right there with him in the Top 10, with just 10 fewer than his countryman.

So Semin can score, but his defensive game could still be lacking and perhaps that’s what’s kept him off the team? Still, no.

His 52.8% corsi for while getting far fewer offensive zone starts compared to the aforementioned twins, though not elite, disproves that theory. And this year, despite playing on a dreadful possession team, is among his best yet.

Semin has done his duty, representing his country at six of the last ten World Championships as well as the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Though that was a disappointing year for the Russians, coming in 6th, there’s no reason to believe that they couldn’t right the ship and medal in front of their home fans this time around. Internationally, Semin has scored 34 points in 43 games, so it’s not as if he’s failed to show up on the bigger stage.

In his stead, Team Russia will take 18-year-old Valeri Nichushkin, 22-year-old Vladimir Tarasenko, first round NHL flameout Viktor Tikhonov and a host of KHLers, some there by choice, some because they also couldn’t hack it in the NHL. Perceived attitude problems with Semin cannot possibly be a consideration, as Alex Radulov will also play for the Russians.

“I know playing with him and seeing him on our team last year and this year, they must have a lot of talent in there if he didn’t make the team,” Tuomo Ruutu said of his teammate. “He’s such a good player and probably one of the most skilled guys I’ve ever seen in my whole career. Like, probably top 10.”

It’s an unfathomable exclusion for Semin, who has already become a fan-favorite in Carolina. Throughout the process, Semin was thought to be a lock, and the events of today can only be described as a tremendous disappointment. If the Winter Olympics are about selecting the greatest players, Team Russia failed miserably.

About The Author

Andrew Luistro graduated from Appalachian State University. An avid sports fan, he began beat writing for the Sunbelt Hockey Journal, part of The Hockey Writers Network, with a focus on the Carolina Hurricanes. Andrew also actively follows the Boston Red Sox and Carolina Panthers, among other teams. Follow him on Twitter @ndrewL7

10 Responses

  1. CanicaSteve

    SunbeltHockey agreed..and i hope Sasha shows them just how wrong they were after the break and lights the net & goal lights on fire!

    Reply
  2. mach2que

    ndrewL7 It just hit me that not only did he not make the team, but his home country is hosting the games. #coldblooded #belowthebelt #canes

    Reply
  3. ndrewL7

    mach2que Yep. It just seems that there has to be something at play here though. Who knows.

    Reply
  4. mach2que

    ndrewL7 Maybe Great 8 shiv’d him so he wouldn’t outshine him. Considering how he’s heating up as well…just blows the mind. #sashacares

    Reply
  5. ndrewL7

    mach2que Eh, Ovechkin and Semin are still good friends. By all accounts, Ovi was pretty disappointed to hear that Semin didn’t make it.

    Reply
  6. mach2que

    ndrewL7 Of all the Oly snubs, that’s got to cut the deepest for a player. Once in a lifetime just to go, but a shoe in on home soil then…

    Reply
  7. ndrewL7

    mach2que Undoubtedly. I’m glad he’s found a home here, because he seems to misunderstood everywhere else. Even at home, apparently.

    Reply
  8. mach2que

    ndrewL7 Now if he had been picked & then turned it down all hell would’ve broken loose. I was very close to going to the games,glad I’m not

    Reply

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