Semin Interview from October issue of Cosmo Magazine
Tip ‘o the hat to Puddin&Semin from the Caps Message Boards for first finding this gem of an article and forwarding it to me. Don’t worry, I won’t reveal where you found it Although this interview is a few months old it is fun reading. Interestingly enough, see if Semin’s statement about his dad’s playing style seems familiar. Hmmmm. Actually, I think the most interesting thing is finding out that he tosses and turns at night having nightmares about catching a puck in the kisser. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did translating it. Enjoy!
23 October 2008 Cosmopolitan “Siberia”
Washington Capitals forward Alexander Semin is not ashamed to admit that he is successful and happy, just as he is unashamed of the tears he shed after winning the World Championship. The Siberian with the golden curls and weather-beaten face spends most of his time in America and dreams of winning the Stanley Cup. However, it was a great honor for him to play on the Russian National Team, and naturally he knew the words to his country’s anthem by heart. The name of this first World Champion hockey player from Krasnoyarsk has been entered into the “Golden Book of Krasnoyarsk”.
Cosmo: Sasha, were you teased as child for being your father’s son? After all, your dad was the hockey coach.
Alex: However, my father never coached me. He was just the first to get me up on skates, when I was five years old. After a while he took me to coach Sergei Mikhailovich Frolov. He was teaching kids born in 1980, while I was born in ’82. So I grew up playing with guys who were two years older than me. I continued playing with them until I was fifteen years old.
C: Did you already know at that time that you were destined to be a hockey player?
A: Well, at that age nobody knows for sure whether or not you’re going to take something seriously. But the desire to play hockey has always been there. I never even thought about any type of profession because I immediately became enamored with hockey. After all, you can constantly prove yourself in this game. At times the game itself is not necessary to me. I would rather make a few good plays, make a few passes, get a little strategy going on the ice.
C: Ball hockey has always been big in Krasnoyarsk. Was there not a little bit of sports jealousy?
A: No, I was still young when ball hockey was at its peak and I loved all team sports. But it was just more interesting for me to chase after a puck.
C: Did you have any sports idols?
A: I really admired Pavel Bure. He was playing in the NHL at that time, and that was my unattainable dream. When I finally made it to the NHL, it all became routine, and the general “cool” factor had worn off.
C: Was it a long journey for you to the NHL?
A: Five years. After Krasnoyarsk Sokol, I played for teams in Tyumen, Chelyabinsk and Togliatti. It was then that I was noticed and invited to play in the NHL.
C: What did you spend your first million on?
A: I bought my parents a flat, and my dad a car. And for myself…basically, I like to live a comfortable life. After all, everyone aspires to prosperity. I dislike material difficulties.
C: Do you squander your money?
A: When I first started making good money I was like that. I loved to dress stylishly and wear expensive clothes. I wouldn’t go visit anyone unless I was wearing Dolce&Gabanna. I went through this stage when I was 19-20 years old. Now I wear whatever is convenient, comfortable and appeals to me.
C: You’ve lived in Washington for several years now. Have you become fully assimilated or do you miss your homeland?
A: They treat the Russians well there, particularly the athletes. Our team is young, everyone treats everyone equally, and we are all friends. There are a lot of Canadians, and these guys are sociable and friendly. There aren’t any big rivalries. True, they do joke around with the new guys, but nothing cruel- for example, they might cut your skate laces before a training session. This is a type of baptism in professional sports. But I didn’t go through that. True, at first it was difficult for me to reconcile myself with American food. The first three weeks I got tired of restaurants. Then my mom came to live with me and ever since then I’ve been eating home cooking-pelmeni, meat, cutlets, everything basic and normal. My dad and my older sister fly over and visit with us, so we don’t have time to be bored.
C: How do you spend your time when you are not training? Have you met any Americans?
A: I’ve met a few, but the girls are nicer in Russia. I go out with my friends to the clubs, restaurants, bars and movies. Nothing special, I just spend time like everybody else.
C: After the victory at the World Championship you spent your entire summer in Krasnoyarsk. Did you feel crowded in your little hometown?
A: I’m always happy to come back to Krasnoyarsk. I have a lot of friends and relatives here. As soon as I get here I immediately go visit with my friends. My parents aren’t offended-they were right beside me at the World Championship, after all. We get a large group together and go out to the dacha, cook up some shashlyk and have a good time. I also love to go out to the famous Khakassian lakes.
C: You still have good relationships with those who played hockey with you back when you first started. Are they envious of you, World Champion?
A: If they are really friends, there won’t be any envy. I treat everyone the same. Sure, not all of them continued on in sports, but many of them are successful businessmen and just plain good guys.
C: When we called you up, I understood that we shouldn’t disturb you before 2:00 pm. Are you really such a heavy sleeper?
A: It’s just that I’m on vacation, and that means I don’t have any obligations, and I don’t have to hurry off anywhere. I sleep as much as I want at night, and in the morning I sleep in. I think that after nine months of exhausting training I can allow myself that. To be honest, I get tired of living like that. I’m used to an athlete’s regime: get up early, train, and then eat breakfast.
C: Do you play any other sports besides hockey?
A: I love soccer, but according to my contract with the Capitals, I’m not allowed to play any other sport besides hockey. No basketball, no skiing. Everything that could possibly cause an injury is forbidden.
C: What is more important in hockey-to be precise and accurate or to be a virtuoso on the skates?
A: You can simply stand in one place and in this manner make more goals than anyone else. Like my dad, he was a slow mover, but his passes and goals are remembered to this day. There are a lot of players who are super productive with their “pedestrian” game. Instinct, talent, and the ability to be in the right place are most important. You can shoot hard but inaccurate, or you can hit it half-strength but right on target.
C: Do you have “lucky” skates or a favorite stick in your arsenal?
A: No, I don’t believe in such talismans. I usually go through 2-3 pairs of skates during a season. I took 20 sticks with me to the World Championships. They break often.
C: What kind of girl would immediately draws your attention?
A: If we are talking about outward appearances…I’ll hang out with blondes and brunettes. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting a redhead yet. (Laughs.) What is important to me is what type of character they have-what’s hidden behind the external façade. Of course it is nice when the girl is beautiful, but you can be beautiful and foolish. I’ll take someone with whom I can carry on a conversation and enjoy being with. A lot of people have this stereotype that hockey or soccer players’ girlfriends have to be models. I disagree. Maybe during Fetisov’s time hockey players married models, but things were different then. Athletes never budged from the national teams, and in reality they just never had any time to meet any girls. But now we have more freedom and can choose whom we want to hang out with.
C: What do you think about girl’s hockey?
A: There is something wrong with that. It’s not women’s work.
C: So what is women’s work? A skillet and vacuum cleaner?
A: Well why do you say that? Ladies can even do what you do-give interviews!
C: What is a hockey player’s worst nightmare?
A: When you dream that a puck has knocked out all your teeth at once. It’s awful– I start tossing and turning in my sleep. But nothing like that has happened to me in real life. It’s too bad I don’t have a dream where I make 5 or 6 goals in a game. (He laughs.)
C: Sasha, your zodiac sign is Pisces, and Pisces have a very developed sense of intuition. Does this help you?
A: Yes, sometimes I end up being a prophet to myself and those around me. I even predicted the score for the final of the World Championship a day before the game, that we would beat Canada 5:4. And that is how it turned out. The guys were just amazed.
C: What was the most fascinating moment of the game?
A: During the finals of the World Championship play-off, of course. The fans were screaming, goosebumps all over your body. It gives you the most unlikely encouragement. Well, then the moment of victory itself. When the entire country is looking at you and rejoicing. I cried from joy.
C: To paraphrase a popular song, I’ll ask this question: do only real men play hockey?
A: I don’t know. Basically it’s just a pretty phrase. All different types of guys play hockey.