Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer has some strong opinions about the work habits of former Capitals sniper Alex Semin and on Monday, one day before Semin and the Carolina Hurricanes make their first visit of the season to Washington, he shared them.
“It was tough to lose his scoring ability when he wanted to play,” Brouwer said, “but all in all we’ve been doing well without him.
“Some nights you didn’t know if he was going to come to the rink. It’s tough to play alongside guys like those, because you don’t know what you’re going to get out of them.”
Semin spent seven seasons with the Capitals, recording 197 goals and 408 points in 469 games. But when the Caps elected not to re-sign Semin over the summer, the 28-year-old right wing signed a one-year, $7 million contract with the Hurricanes.
Through 17 games this season Semin has four goals, 10 assists and is a plus-10 while averaging 20:49 of ice time, well above the 16:47 he averaged with the Caps last season, when he finished with 21 goals and 54 points.
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said he still talks often with Semin and wishes he was still a Capital.
“Yeah, of course,” Ovechkin said. “He’s a great player, a good guy. But it’s a business and sometimes teams make decisions not to keep players. I liked playing with him. Sometimes I miss [him]. Right now I don’t have Russian guys here.”
Ovechkin said he expects Semin to be fired up to face the Capitals for the first time.
“Probably, yeah,” he said. “He’ll show up and tell them it was a mistake. Every normal player would do that.”
Without Semin, the Caps have relied heavily on right wings Alex Ovechkin [8 goals], Troy Brouwer [8 goals] and Joel Ward [5 goals] to carry the offense.
"When you need that extra boost of offense you always wonder if we had him right now if he would be able to provide that," Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said, "but that’s a perfect world and this isn’t a perfect world. We’ve got to just roll with it and it’s great guys like Brows and Wardo are filling in."
Brouwer clearly is not yearning for the days of sharing a locker room with Semin, saying players resented the fact he did not get more out of his natural talents.
“It can be frustrating,” Brouwer said. “I know there’s a lot of guys that work really, really hard to get where they are, and some guys it’s a little easier because of their skill set.”
Brouwer also gave a glimpse of how the culture of the Capitals’ locker room has changed with three different coaches in the past year, saying it was not a good one when he arrived last season under Bruce Boudreau.
“With Bruce I was only here for a short time, but it was very lackadaisical, I would say,” Brouwer said. “Guys were able to do whatever they pleased. There wasn’t a whole lot of accountability.
“Then when we had a little bit of trouble and there needed to be accountability it wasn’t received exactly with welcome arms, I’ll say.”
Brouwer said that culture changed under Dale Hunter, but the arrival of Adam Oates has allowed the Capitals’ creative players to be creative while still being held accountable for the defense.
“To clarify,” Brouwer said, “goal scorers still need to block shots.”