If we learned anything while watching TSN's free agency coverage on Sunday, it's that their panel of Marc Crawford, Ray Ferraro, and Pierre McGuire is not particularly fond of free agent forward Alexander Semin.
And Semin's agent isn't happy about it.
Having just completed his seventh season with the Washington Capitals, Semin officially hit the unrestricted free agent market on Sunday for the first time in his career. Once you get past Zach Parise he's the best forward available on the market, and it wouldn't be a stretch to suggest that Semin is the more talented player.
The overall production isn't that far off either.
While comparing the ability and production of the two players, the panel ran what was basically a smear campaign against Semin and seemingly did whatever they could to drag his name through the mud.
Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks provides the video, as well as the incredible transcript.
"The difference is," said Crawford. "One guy has a ton of character, the other guy has no character. One guy scores 30 goals and doesn't help his team and the other guy scores 25 goals, but helps in every single way. So yeah, I would sign him, but he's going to be banished to a place like Columbus or something, and that's what those guys do, head to the island of misfit toys."
He continued, but only after Ferraro jumped in and asked about going to a team with a strong locker room and strong leadership.
"I feel like a place like Detroit could bring him in and surround him with a Datsyuk. You gotta have a really, really strong group. There's an old NHL General Manager that says, 'Either take a guy that's a complete winner or a complete loser.' And he falls in that category. Maybe they can change him. I don't like it… you don't change that much. I'd be cautious."
(No word on who that "old NHL General Manager" was.)
Needing to have his voice heard at this point, McGuire decided to jump on the pile.
"This is not a great teammate," said McGuire, doing his best to make the situation sound as serious as possible. "I'll tell you that right now, not a good guy to have around your group unless you have unbelievably great leadership and rely on that. He's the ultimate coach killer, that's what he is."
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This isn't the first time things like this have been said (or written) about Semin, but it seemed to be one of the worst cases of it, and it all happened in one place with multiple people taking turns on the tag-team action.
Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington caught up with Semin's agent, Mark Gandler, shortly after TSN went nuclear on his client. Naturally, he wasn't exactly thrilled with their analysis of his client.
“Semin's stats are better than those of Parise,” Gandler told Gormley. “The only way to attack that is to call Semin names I have to tell you I'm going to check with my attorney.
“I think Pierre McGuire should know better. Take a look at Semin's plus-minus over the same period of time as Parise. Look at his plus-minus over any period against his teammates with the Capitals and you will see he is not that guy they say.”
Putting aside the merits of plus/minus as a useful tool for a minute, it is pretty stunning to see just how undervalued Semin is in the eyes of many around the NHL, whether it be in front offices or the media. He's not a perfect player by any stretch. He has flaws (chief among them is his inability to stay out of the penalty box at inopportune times). But he also has a ridiculous level of talent and is an extremely productive player.
He's a top-three player in this free agent market.
Some team is going to sign him, probably for less than he should go for given his skill and level of production, and get an extremely productive player that improves their team.
Gormley then asked Gandler if he felt the TSN analysis could have an impact on his client's chances of signing with a team: “I don't know. I hope not. Listen, fans are listening to this and fans sometimes drive owners. Sometimes for a big deal like Semin will be getting, you need owner approval and this is what the owners hear and that's very bad.”
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