Boudreau scratches out message with Semin

Boudreau scratches out message with Semin
November 21, 2011, 10:55 pm
Share This Post

Hes been benched for long stretches of games.

Hes had closed-door meetings about taking too many penalties

Hes practiced with the fourth line.

And now, Capitals right wing Alex Semin is swallowing the humility of being made a healthy scratch for the first time since early in his rookie season.

Struggling through the worst offensive start of his seven-year NHL career and leading the Capitals with 14 minor penalties, Semin was told to sit out Monday nights home game against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Semin did not participate in the team's morning skate and did not hit the ice for pregame warmups. Curiously, Alex Ovechkin also skipped Monday's morning skate.

Scratching Semin was a brave and bold move by Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau and sounded off alarms around the NHL that Semin might soon be traded.

When a player of that skill is a healthy scratch that goes on your report, Nashville Predators scout Shawn Dineen told Weve all read that hes had his wrist slapped a few times, so its not that surprising. Hes an extremely skilled player and Bruce is definitely sending a message to other people in the dressing room.

The message? No player is too talented to spend a night watching a game in street clothes.

Through 18 games Semin, 27, has four goals, five assists and is a minus-3 while averaging 16:20 in ice time. Not exactly attractive numbers for a player who is on a one-year contract that pays him 6.7 million.

Because of that salary Boudreau likely needed the blessing of general manager George McPhee before making Semin a healthy scratch. If McPhee is interested in trading Semin he almost certainly would need to take on significant salary in return.

Semin has long been known for his incredible skill level he had a career-high 40 goals and 84 points just two seasons ago but has also carried a reputation for being a defensive liability and wildly inconsistent with his efforts.

I think teams would be interested because of his skill, Dineen said. I can tell you it would be very difficult for the Nashville Predators to do something like that.

If, indeed, the Capitals are interested in trading Semin and find there are no takers, they have the option of assigning him to the AHL Hershey Bears, where he would continue to collect his NHL salary but would not count against the salary cap.

That would appear to be a last resort for a team that simply wants a better overall effort from their second-highest paid player.

So, if you were the Capitals' general manager, what would be your next step?