When the Carolina Hurricanes run line rushes at practice, Alexander Semin
is typically slotted on the first-line wing.
But on Friday, he was not on the first line, nor the second, third or fourth. He was the extra forward among a healthy group of 12 others.
“Right now, he’s not in the lineup,” head coach Bill Peters said. “We’ve got a couple guys back from injury so we’ve got the ability to take some guys out.”
Asked if Semin, who has recorded two assists and is a minus-7 through six games, would be in the lineup against Arizona on Saturday night, Peters responded, “Not as of right now, no. We’ll see tomorrow for sure.”
Semin was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third period on Tuesday night in Vancouver when the Canes were trailing 3-0. While he skated in two shifts following the expiration of that minor penalty, he was benched for the latter half of the third period.
“He'd played enough,” Peters said after the game. “I don't think we need to take undisciplined penalties when we're trying to dig out of a hole, right? When you're in a hole, quit digging.”
When he was introduced in the summer as the team’s head coach, Peters touched on accountability and work ethic.
“I have the ultimate hammer as the coach, and the hammer is the ice time,” he said in June. “They all want ice time, they all feel they deserve more ice time, they all want to play in the situations that match their skill set. I’m all for that as long as you’re giving me the things that I need.
The work ethic part of it is not negotiable. You look around the league at any team that’s any good, they’re some of the hardest working teams in the league. That’s where it starts,” he continued. “The guys will know what’s expected. The guys that can deliver and play on a consistent basis are going to be the guys going out over the wall and getting the opportunity.”
Following Thursday’s practice at Raleigh Center Ice, Peters was asked what troubled him about Semin’s play.
“He’s not moving his feet. He’s not playing at the pace the league is at. The league is at a good pace,” he explained. “There are guys with track pressure, and there’s no time and space. If you’re not moving your feet, you’re going to get caught from behind, and if you’re going to make a slow-developing play, guys that were open are going to be covered eventually and everything closes off. You’ve got to play quicker.”
So, now that the team has a healthy crop of forwards, Peters is swinging the aforementioned hammer.
"I made the decision. It’s a decision that I think is best for the individual and for the team," Peters said. "We want Sems to be a big part of it. We want him to play the game hard, properly and with pace and live up to his ability and his potential. So in order to do that, you’ve got to put the work in and be mentally and physically engaged with what you’re doing.”