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Monday, November 3, 2008
Alexander Semin on Crosby: No holds barred!


Now we know why Alexander Semin didn't have anything to say in his first three NHL seasons. Apparently, he has no filter. (My wife often accuses me of that as well.)

By now, you likely have heard about the talented Washington winger's comments, but what the heck? Let's revisit.

Semin, through a translator, said this last week to Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports:

"What's so special about [Sidney Crosby]? I don't see anything special there. Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there's nothing else. Even if you compare him to Patrick Kane from Chicago, [Kane] is a much more interesting player. The way he moves, his dekeing abilities, his thinking on the ice and his anticipation of the play are so superb."

And there's more …

"I think that if you take any player, even if he is dead wood, and start promoting him, you'll get a star. Especially if he scores 100 points. No one is going to care about anyone else. No one is going to care whether he possesses great skill. Let's say you put someone in front of the net and let him deflect pucks in, and he scored 50 goals -- everyone will say, 'Wow!' and then hand him a $10 million per year contract. That's what they like here."

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis told ESPN.com via e-mail Monday that he believed "something was lost in the translation."

"I believe he wanted to say that there are many world-class athletes in the NHL and that if one is marketed over the other -- then they are regarded as super special," Leonsis wrote. "We all have high regard for Sidney Crosby -- he is a historic and world-class player. And he is certainly one of the best players in the world."

Added Leonsis: "The NHL is blessed to have so many great young players in the league right now -- in fact, I can't think of another time in the league's history when its best players were its youngest players. To have bothAlex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby be league MVPs at such an early age is remarkable. And to have so many great young stars augers well for the league and for the growing fan base."

To be honest, whenever you're dealing with translators, as I have many times in my career, it is hard to tell context and tone. So I agree with Leonsis that something probably was lost in translation. But on the other hand, Semin hasn't yet retracted anything. Maybe he meant business.

Either way, I can tell you firsthand that Crosby in no way wants all the attention he gets. He'd be happy as a clam if he could just go about playing hockey and not have to do all these promotional and charity appearances. But he understands why he has to do it. He cares about selling the game and agrees to free up a huge chunk of his time to do a lot of this stuff.

Do you think Crosby asked the NHL to put him in the Winter Classic outdoor game last season? Do you think Crosby told commissioner Gary Bettman that he wanted his team to start the season in Sweden?

No. He does all of it because the league wants him to. He goes to the appearances his team asks him to go to. The guy is 21 years old and gives up a ton of his free time to help sell the game. Should he be hammered for it? Not sure that's fair.

The Semin comments spice up what already is an intense rivalry between players on these two teams. Crosby and Alex Ovechkin constantly have been compared to each other since they entered the league together in the 2005-06 season. But, as some of you know, the real hatred is between Ovechkin and fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin because of a reported personal dispute.

So, let's recap the personal rivalries between the Caps and Pens and determine who would win if they were to duke it out on the ice:

Ovechkin versus Malkin: I'm taking Ovechkin. I think he could throw 'em pretty good if he wanted to.

Crosby versus Semin: We'll take Sid the Kid. He'd use his tree-trunk legs to wrestle Semin to the ice.

Mario Lemieux versus Ted Leonsis: Not a very fair fight, but who knows? Maybe Ted has a move or two we don't know about.

Ray Shero versus George McPhee: Hey, Shero grew up with his dad's Broad Street Bullies, right?

Michel Therrien versus Bruce Boudreau: The Pens' coach is a street brawler.

We need these two teams to face each other in the playoffs!