Originally written on Shutdown Line  |  Last updated 11/14/14
Washington-capitals-new
It's not too often I have a guest writer on here, but ESPN TrueHoop writer Michael Pina showed me an article he wrote on Alexander Semin and I thought it was worth posting on here. Semin has quickly established himself as a fan-favorite among Caniacs and it's nice to see that his strong play has been catching the national eye this year, too. Whenever a professional athlete “just needs a change of scenery,” the line is usually a misleading twist of the narrative that actually means “whatever ugliness that’s going on isn’t Player X’s fault. He’s cool, it’s everyone else who’s messed up!” In sports, this turn of phrase has firmly planted itself on the Mt. Rushmore of scapegoat targeting one-liners. It’s whispered all the time, by players, agents, coaches, owners, even fans. It’s the standard excuse maker, and almost always sums up a tricky situation by skimming over the meat and potatoes that explain what exactly is/was/will be wrong. More times than not whatever’s actually wrong is too complex to identify. Carolina Hurricanes right winger Alexander Semin was the NHL’s prime “just needs a change of scenery” guy this past summer. After making his NHL debut as a 19-year-old in 2003, Semin spent seven oft-tumultuous seasons with the Washington Capitals. But for the most part his work on the ice went without complaint. He’s one of 18 NHL players to average at least 30 goals during the last six seasons, and has recorded the fifth most goals in Capitals history. (For “change of scenery” cases to even be relevant the subject must be supremely gifted, and if he isn’t succeeding it’s an easy way to explain mysterious struggles.) Nobody doubted his ability to dominate on the ice—setting up teammates with unparalleled foresight and seemingly scoring at will with a wrist shot so precise it could cut glass—but Semin’s attitude was criticized by teammates, those who spend more time with him than his own family. Most of the questions centered around his work ethic, or lack thereof, which likely factored into his signing just a one-year deal and would normally be seen as a death sentence for players possessing less natural talent. Former teammate Matt Bradley once said Semin “just doesn’t care,” and the Hurricanes did heavy background research into his mindset, interviewing his former coach Bruce Boudreau on the issue, before inking Semin to a deal. In the end Carolina thought their “scenery” would do Semin good, and so far their relatively low-risk investment has paid off tenfold. Through the season’s first 24 games he’s been nothing short of brilliant, boasting a plus/minus of +18—third best in the entire league (teammate Eric Staal and Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz are the only two who’re better, and Semin has only registered a negative plus/minus in five games). He’s also averaging 1.08 points per game, which is as helpful as it sounds, and ranks 15th in the league (Sidney Crosby leads the NHL with 1.73 points per game). It’s still somewhat early into a lockout shortened season, but so far Semin’s new environment seems to be having a profound effect on his game. That, or it’s done nothing at all.  Michael Pina is a writer for ESPN’s TrueHoop Network and ScoreBig.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelVPina.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jameis Winston cleared in code of conduct case

Sherman: Patrick Peterson would be benched on Seahawks

Fans struck by lightning after Buccaneers-Packers game

Report: Philip Rivers playing through painful back injury

Report: Bears could have interest in Jim Harbaugh

Report: Shanahan interested in coaching next season

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Michigan has its eye on several NFL coaches

Report: Titans, Jay Cutler have mutual interest in trade

Phillies GM told Ryan Howard team is better off without him

Report: Browns interested in drafting Marcus Mariota

Chargers keep playoff hopes alive with comeback win

Robin Lopez responds to Khloe Kardashian dating rumors

WATCH: Dominic Raiola stomps on Bears player's ankle

WATCH: Arian Foster throws TD pass, drops scoreboard taunt

WATCH: Johnny Manziel leaves with injury after taking big hit

NHL has warned 22 players about diving

Nick Mangold wears NYDP hat to honor fallen officers

Five things we learned from the first day of bowl games

WATCH: South Alabama coach bloodied after kick to the face

Dan Mullen wears funny 'Christmas Vacation' sweater

WATCH: Redskins FB gets in Eagles fan's face after TD

WATCH: Utah runs trick play on first offensive play of game

Mick Cronin misses game with unruptured aneurysm

Steve Alford: Kentucky is best team I've coached against

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Raiola stomps on Bears player's ankle

Bears interested in Jim Harbaugh?

Shanahan to return to 2015?

Browns interested in drafting Mariota?

Mullen wears funny Christmas sweater

RG3 returning to Redskins?

Tom Izzo hot after bad loss

Kings, Nets talking Deron Williams trade

WATCH: DeSean mocks Eagles

Vick: Winston is the future of the NFL

No NFL team in LA next season?

UNC rocking Jordan-era throwbacks

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.