Washington Capitals' Winger Alex Semin on the Hot Seat? Perhaps.

The 2011-2012 NHL hockey season is in full swing. Just like every year, there are dark horse successes, high-profile disappointments, and rumors that Alexander Semin will be traded. Yes, the rumor mill has come back around and produced this piece of gossip yet again. I don’t know if these murmurings are ever based on actual insider, or if it’s just hope and speculation by frustrated fans.

Either way, it’s not hard to see where the rumor gets started. In 15 games thus far, the left winger has a meager 3 goals and 5 assists. This season is supposed to be about learning from past mistakes, putting it all behind them, and moving forward as a team to finally win some hardware. Semin is up to his same old antics, including leading the team in penalty minutes.

Semin’s penchant for penalty taking is quickly becoming one of his defining characteristics, and it has long been a nuisance to coaches and fans. Two years ago, he led the team in minor penalties with 33. 18 of these were tripping, hooking, or slashing, the lazy penalties that come when you stop moving your feet, and half-heartedly whack at the guy as he skates by you. Last year, he was tied for most minor offenses with John Erskine at 27. Of these, 19 were the three specified kinds. Semin is already up to 11 minor penalties this year, 8 of which have been divided evenly between hooking and tripping.

Washington has allowed 10 goals on 57 shorthanded instances this year, and while a penalty kill that is 82.5% efficient is decent, the way I’m choosing to see it is that if Semin hadn’t taken those penalties, the Caps would have those goals back.

This past summer there were a significant amount of changes taking place to the Capitals’ roster, so it’s no surprise that rumors of Semin’s departure would surface. General Manager George McPhee and the organization seem to have made the right moves, because the Caps have looked generally impressive. Sure, there have been a few disappointing games, but every team has those. With an 82 game, six month schedule, there are bound to be low points. That being said, I genuinely think Semin needs to find his motivation, or whatever it is that he’s missing, or his future in Washington is going to be in serious doubt.

The past two times that Semin has re-signed contracts with Washington, they’ve each been for one extra year only, showing that neither side is extremely committed to keeping Semin in Washington. His contract ends again at the end of this year, and I optimistically think he’ll at least make it to then. He’s merely in a slump right now, and while I’ve never been particularly fond of him, he is a major part of the Caps’ offense, and a friend of Alexander Ovechkin.

Obviously his performance the rest of the reason, and most importantly, how the Capitals end their season will determine Semin’s fate as a Cap, assuming he makes it to the spring.

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