Semin_Alexander

Boudreau calls Semin “misunderstood”

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Former Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau spoke with Dan Rosen of NHL.com today and touched on a myriad of topics — his relationship with Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals’ struggles and when he knew the team had stopped responding to him.

But his most interesting comments might’ve been about mercurial sniper Alex Semin, who Boudreau made a healthy scratch earlier this season.

Boudreau said Semin was “misunderstood” and shot down criticisms of Semin lacking passion/desire to win. He did say, however, that penalties became a major issue for the 27-year-old Russian.

“Unfortunately when he took penalties he felt so much remorse,” Boudreau said. “I mean, a couple of nights ago he took a penalty and said, ‘I couldn’t play anymore after that because I was so shaken up.’ He cares, but things right now aren’t bouncing for him.

“When you’re used to doing something like scoring and you’re not scoring, it wears on your mind, and I’m sure that’s where it was with Alex. But I talked to him more this year than ever before and he talked to me more than ever before. We communicated well and he wanted to do a lot of things right.”

Semin’s on pace for a career-low 18 goals and 37 points — a stunning falloff from a guy that, just two years ago, potted 40 goals and finished 13th in league scoring. Boudreau said he’d communicated with Semin this year more than any other and never felt Semin was uncoachable.

If anything, Boudreau worked harder than ever to snap Semin and the Capitals out of their slumps. Just one problem — not everybody thought they were slumping.

“This wasn’t a slump,” Caps GM George McPhee said Monday. “You can ride out slumps. This was simply a case of the players were no longer responding to Bruce. When you see that, as much as you don’t want to make a change, you have to make a change.”

More Boudreau: Here’s BB speaking with Jill Sorenson of CSN Washington about how the Caps stopped responding to him.

Boudreau: “I tried every trick… nothing was working.”

Washington Capitals v Winnipeg Jets
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Bruce Boudreau’s firing on Monday may not have been a shock to many following the Capitals’ play of late, but for Boudreau he thinks it came at the right time.

Boudreau spoke with Tarik El-Bashir or The Washington Post about being fired and as you might expect, his take on things was sad but also honest. Boudreau said he told Caps GM George McPhee, “I tried every trick I knew in 18 years and nothing was working.”

When you run out of ideas for how to tweak and motivate a team like that, there’s not a whole lot you can do. As far as the idea that players were tuning him out, Boudreau said he didn’t believe it to be true but that the last couple days he was at the helm people started saying it to him. Boudreau admits he may have been naive.

As far as whether or not Alex Ovechkin was rebelling against him, Boudreau says he’ll never want to believe that to be the case and that the good of Ovechkin’s game far outweighed the bad. That might kill a few columnists’ hopes right there.

Reading Boudreau’s comments you feel for the guy because you get the sense that he really gave it all he had and that the team was just done with him. It’s sad but it happens with a lot of teams. The well runs dry and there’s no way to reignite their will to do what you want. Now the Caps hope that Dale Hunter can find the new buttons to push.

Milbury and Jones weigh in: “Did Boudreau have to go?” (Video)

St Louis Blues v Washington Capitals

NHL on NBC analysts Mike Milbury and Keith Jones took to the airwaves to weigh in on the question of the week in Washington: Did Bruce Boudreau need to be fired in Washington? Could the Capitals have turned it around and thrived under Boudreau or did the organization need to make a move to get the season back on the tracks?

Both hockey guys said he had to go… and they both say it’s because of Alexander Ovechkin.

Check it out and let us know in the comments if you agree with what they had to say:

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Milbury, Jones discuss how Alex Ovechkin will react to Dale Hunter

Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin
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It seems like the hockey world gets a chance to make a “final judgment” on Alex Ovechkin about two or three times per season. Ovechkin’s latest legacy-redefining moment could come now, as bellicose Bruce Boudreau makes way for former Washington Capitals great Dale Hunter. Mike Milbury and Keith Jones seem unanimous about Hunter’s ability to transition from the OHL to the greatest hockey league in the world, but what are the odds that Ovi will snap out of his relative funk?

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No more excuses for Ovechkin

Ovechkin
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If Alex Ovechkin was playing to get Bruce Boudreau fired, well, mission accomplished. But even if he wasn’t, the narrative going forward will be the same – Ovechkin is out of excuses.

Not happy with the coach? Fine, he’s gone. Now prove to everyone he was the problem, not you.

Capitals general manager George McPhee said firing Boudreau wasn’t about Ovechkin’s relationship with the coach – it was about the whole team not responding to the coach. But there’s only one superstar captain of the Capitals and that’s No. 8. If Ovechkin doesn’t start playing inspired hockey starting tomorrow versus the Blues, he’ll get crucified by the fans and media.

A man lost his job and you’re still loafing around the ice? No wonder the Capitals have never won the Stanley Cup. Their captain doesn’t care.

Fortunately for Ovechkin, Dale Hunter will do things differently than Boudreau. That’s why he was hired. Specifically what he’ll change remains to be seen, but he’d be foolish if he didn’t put Ovechkin in a position to succeed. Hunter coached some offensively-gifted London Knights teams. They were good defensively, too, but Patrick Kane didn’t score 145 points in 2006-07 with a leash around his neck.

Hunter won’t let Ovechkin do whatever he wants out there, but he has to know the Caps need their best player to start enjoying hockey again. There isn’t a player in the NHL that loves scoring goals more than Ovechkin. That’s what motivates him, and it’s up to the coach to exploit it.

After that, it’s up to Ovechkin.