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Author: Alexei Evstifeev and Nikolai Shekin (NA)
Translated By: Yura Zyuzin
Date: 04/20/2007
Alexander Semin: I warned the coaches that I would be late...

2007 World Championships

Alexander Semin and Denis Arkhipov celebrate the latter's goal against the Swiss at the 2006 World Championships (Photo Source: IHWC.net)
By Alexei Evstifeev and Nikolai Shekin
(April 20th, 2007)

Translated by Yura Zyuzin (Courtesy of Russian Hockey Digest)

Washington’s young forward Alexander Semin (Washington Capitals), who had been scheduled to play for Russia at the World Championships, has recently been excluded from the national team by head coach Vyacheslav Bykov for failing to arrive at training camp on time. The first practice to include players from the NHL was scheduled for 6:00pm on Monday April 16th in Novogorsk, on the outskirts of Moscow. Semin, however only arrived at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport from his hometown of Krasnoyarsk, where he had been since the end of the NHL season, at 8:30pm of that day. While the management of the national team has commented on Semin’s exclusion from the team multiple times, citing the importance of discipline, this is Semin’s first account of his side of the story and the miscommunication that occurred between him and selectional coach Sergei Nemchinov.

The management of the national team had already commented on your exclusion. Yet you remain silent…
-It is their right to comment on the situation. But, in any case, nothing can be changed now.

However, your silence gives rise to a public opinion that you don’t care.
-How do I not care? They stated their point of view. I will, possibly, explain everything in more detail later. Right now I will only note: Sergei Nemchinov phoned me in the evening of Saturday April 15th, when it was already 11:00pm in Krasnoyarsk. I explained to him, that I have a ticket for 7:30pm local time on Monday, and that I bought this ticket immediately upon my arrival from America. Nemchinov said, that I need to exchange my ticket for a morning flight. I called the ticket office at Emelyanovo Airport, and was told that that no such tickets remained.

The opening day of training camp – April 16th – was known to you well in advance, correct?
-Yes. When Nemchinov visited America in March, precisely this date was set. But nobody established a specific time. I arrived in Moscow precisely on the 16th. Only during his phone call on Sunday did Nemchinov inform me that practice was scheduled for 6:00pm. Yet he did not warn me that such sanctions would be applied if was late.

How long did you spend at Domodedovo Airport?
-Two hours. Upon my arrival I contacted head coach Vyacheslav Bykov. After our phone conversation in which he told me that the team no longer required my services, I thought about staying in Moscow, going to Novogorsk – maybe I could have changed something. From the airport I got in touch with my agent Mark Gandler. He, as far as I know, contacted either Bykov or Nemchinov, and called me back, saying that the decision has been made, and that it cannot be changed. I immediately flew home.

Do you think that Nemchinov then, on Sunday, warned Bykov that you were going to be late?
(After a pause)
-I think, yes.

Did you have a desire to play for the national team?
Of course! I really wanted to participate in the World Championships! I always strove to play for the national team, I always accepted invitations with great pleasure. For me there is no difference what the tournament is: the World Championships, European Championships, or the Baltika Cup! Understand, since my childhood I supported our team, I had my own heroes. I did not even dream of making the national team. And when I made it – I gave everything I had to the team. And now…

Will you watch the World Championships?
-Of course!

At home in Krasnoyarsk?
-I don’t know yet.

To wish, that Vyacheslav Bykov’s team does not win…
(Interrupting)
-That is stupid.

Are you maintaining contact with guys on the national team?
-Of course. First and foremost, with Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals). I was told, that before that practice on Monday, when everyone gathered on the ice, Bykov announced my exclusion.

Are you greatly offended?
-I did not think that things would turn out this way. Yes. I was late for practice. Yet, nobody warned me, that there would be such sanctions. I, on the other hand, warned the team’s management that I would be late.

I know that your relatives are supporting you. Your acquaintances have probably joined them?
-Of course. Everyone is really worried right now. I explain what happened as best I can.

How are you spending your time in Krasnoyarsk?
-I rest, skate, one can even say that I train. In Sokol [the local hockey team] the kids practice in the morning, and the main team practices in the evening.

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