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The strange case of Alexander Semin

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Unfortunately for free agent Alex Semin, his reputation precedes his impressive statistics. (Jerome Davis/Icon SMI)

By Stu Hackel

Goal scoring in the NHL is down, the thin free agent market is depleted of top offensive talent, and the trade market seems frozen, so one name in particular stands out: unrestricted free agent Alexander Semin. Theoretically at least, he could be the solution to some team’s scoring woes, but there he sits by the phone, waiting for his agent Marc Gandler to tell him which club wants to sign a supremely talented 28-year-old who has put up seasons of 38, 34 and 40 goals during his NHL career. His numbers are comparable to Zach Parise’s, but no one is throwing a 13-year contract worth $98 million at Semin. Not even close.

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  • Published On Jul 12, 2012
  • Dale Hunter puts family first, Capitals behind him in surprise decision

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    How much Dale Hunter’s relationship with Alexander Ovechkin factored into the coach’s decision to quit is an intriguing question. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The mercurial NHL coaching career of Dale Hunter came to an end on Monday when he told the Washington Capitals that, after less than six months, it was time to go. He did a lot in a short time, turning the glamorous Caps into a team suddenly known for glamorless defense. He got them into the playoffs, knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins in the tightest seven-game series in playoff history and took the Eastern Conference’s top seed, the Rangers, to seven games before succumbing, 2-1, on Saturday. But now he’ll return to his OHL team, the London Knights, one of hockey’s most successful junior franchises, which he co-owns with his brother Mark.

    “It wasn’t unexpected,” Caps GM George McPhee told reporters at the team’s suburban practice facility (video). But for those who saw in Hunter’s makeover the direction that the club must take to achieve that elusive playoff success in the Alex Ovechkin Era, the coach’s departure can’t be anything but a disappointment. Perhaps speaking for that segment of Caps Nation, The Post’s sports columnist Tom Boswell called Hunter’s decision “UNBELIEVABLE!”

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  • Published On May 14, 2012
  • Ovie-Hunter truce a ticking bomb?

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    Frankly, Capitals coach Dale Hunter doesn’t give a damn what Alexander Ovechkin thinks about his diminished playing time during this postseason tournament. (Chuck Myers/MCT via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    As the Rangers and Capitals continue their second round playoff series, one player has been and will continue to be the focus of attention — Alex Ovechkin. A few years ago, that might have been because he was the indisputable motor driving the Capitals, but now it’s because he is not.

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  • Published On May 02, 2012
  • Capitals’ changes not all for the best

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    After all is said and done, as goes Alex Ovechkin, so go the Caps. (Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Yesterday, we looked at a Western team, the San Jose Sharks, who remain a perennial postseason disappointment although their recent record may be encouraging but also a bit deceiving. Today we’ll look at a similar team in the East: the Washington Capitals.

    Before being shut out by the struggling  New York Islanders, 3-0, on Tuesday night, the Caps had won seven of their last nine games and the hype machine had begun buzzing that Washington was back, or at least on the way back, to being an NHL powerhouse. But if you saw how lethargic and sloppy the Caps played on home ice — taking only 17 shots against a more energetic team that was playing the second game of a back-to-back and is, after all, the 14th-place Islanders — you’ve got to have some reservations.

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  • Published On Jan 18, 2012
  • It’s the time of the season for NHL coaching upheaval

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    Despite his recent three-year extension, coach Randy Carlyle was given the old heave-ho at the season’s quarter pole before the struggling Ducks fell too far out of the playoff race. (Joe Scarnici/ZUMAPRESS.com)

    By Stu Hackel

    As this week dawned, Bruce Boudreau was coaching the Capitals, Paul Maurice was bench-bossing the Hurricanes and Randy Carlyle was directing the Ducks. It’s only Thursday and, today, Bruce Boudreau is directing the Ducks, Kirk Muller is bench-bossing the Hurricanes and Dale Hunter is coaching the Caps. What will tomorrow bring?

    Firing coaches has gone viral in the NHL. Why? “It’s about the time,” says Scotty Bowman, the legendary Hall of Famer who won nine Stanley Cups as a coach. “The first quarter of the season is gone. You’re coming up to the one-third mark now. The end of this month you’re halfway. These teams, if they don’t make a move now, it’s going to be a long season and they’re not going to catch up.”

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  • Published On Dec 01, 2011
  • Boudreau pays for Caps’ inability to adjust

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    Once a jolly, ebullient players’ coach, Bruce Boudreau got tough with his underperforming stars, such as captain Alexander Ovechkin, this season and ended up alienating them. (Ann Heisenfelt/AP Photos)

    By Stu Hackel

    The coaching obituary of Bruce Boudreau will reflect that one of the NHL’s most colorful and visible men behind the bench could not get the best out of a talented group of players when it mattered.  When adjustments were on the agenda, he couldn’t make his team follow. In a results-oriented business, that’s all that counts.

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  • Published On Nov 28, 2011
  • Crosby and Ovechkin at their crossroads

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    When last seen together, Sidney Crosby was playing at a superstar level, but Alex Ovechkin’s game was showing signs of decline that have become more pronounced. (Photo by Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE)

    By Stu Hackel

    They’ll be linked forever, it seems, as this generation’s Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux or, in an earlier time, Rocket Richard and Gordie Howe. The Siamese twins of the New NHL’s image machinery,  Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, have once again skated to the forefront of our minds.
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  • Published On Nov 21, 2011
  • Stories abound as Capitals and Penguins renew rivalry

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    Perhaps a spirited battle against the rival Penguins will spark Caps captain Alexander Ovechkin, who was chided by coach Bruce Boudreau for a lackluster start, and his linemates. (Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE)

    By Stu Hackel

    Last season’s Winter Classic and HBO 24/7 foes, the Penguins and Capitals, squared off for their first meeting of the season on Thursday night in a game full of storylines and import for two of the NHL’s marquee squads, not the least of which is Alex Ovechkin’s start to the season which, to that point, had thrilled only his opponents.

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  • Published On Oct 13, 2011
  • Ovie, Caps fall short of expectations

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    With expectations for the Caps high as usual, all eyes are on Alex Ovechkin. (Warren Wimmer/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL preseason ended Sunday for teams in North America (the four clubs opening in Europe — Kings, Ducks, Rangers and Sabres — each have a game left to play over there) and things will get going for real on Thursday. The Blackhawks-Capitals tilt on Sunday, a 4-1 Caps victory that was closer than the score indicated, gave us a chance to see two clubs who some believe could meet in the Stanley Cup Final, and it wasn’t bad entertainment for a preseason game at all.

    But Caps coach Bruce Boudreau wasn’t happy with the way his team played or the results of their warm-up games, in which Washington went 3-3-1. “We didn’t play like Stanley Cup champions all preseason,” he said (video) — a rather strange statement about a team that has won only two playoff series during his four-year tenure — and he called the Caps’ performance on Sunday “sloppy.”

    With that, Boudreau seems to have abandoned his jolly round fellow persona of seasons’ past. “If there is one thing we have come to know about Bruce Boudreau, it’s that he doesn’t sugar-coat anything,” wrote Chuck Gormley on CSNWashington.com, who just moved south to DC after a number of years covering the Flyers. He’ll get to watch Boudreau more closely during a season in which the coach’s job could be jeopardized if the expectations of fans and those above him aren’t met.
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  • Published On Oct 03, 2011
  • Five for firing: coaching situations to watch

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    After three seasons without a playoff appearance, Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson is quite likely on notice, his assistants having been replaced, reportedly against his wishes. (Photo by Nick Turchiaro/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    Coaches are hired to be fired, the cliché goes, and it’s a given every NHL season that some of the guys behind the bench will not make it to Game 82 while some will … and still be gone at season’s end.

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  • Published On Sep 14, 2011


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