About Alex Semin, what I learned from his appearance and press scrum at the Canadiens' golf tournament is that his English skills are very very poor. Not saying that as a knock on him at all, but he didn’t come to North America as a teenager and learn the language on the fly, while bro-ing down with his buddies. He arrived here in his twenties and maybe he’s one of those people who never got it, who languages don’t come easy to.
We all know people like that, two friends who immigrated at the same time from Ecuador for example, and one you can’t shut up he’s such a chatterbox, and the other guy just keeps to himself and just nods and says “Yes” and “Thank you” a lot.
We batted around earlier on this summer, how he might have had a tough time in Carolina, maybe exiled in his own dressing room with no other Russians to speak to, and how he might have an easier time in Montréal with a few compatriots to exchange with and relieve the tension. Judging from his press scrum, he really isn’t comfortable talking in English beyond the very basics of hockey, the platitudes. “Great city. New season.”
During the scrum, there was a little bit of nervousness, some long pauses, and even though I think I’m pretty enlightened on the subject, I caught myself on the cusp of opining that he maybe wasn’t very bright. I’d then ask myself how smart I’d sound if I had to conduct such an interview in Spanish.
“Hola! Soy muy bien, muy bien! Las rodillas son bueno! Soy muy feliz. Quiero el desporte hockey.”
I loved Andrei’s answer about what he told him before he signed with the Canadiens: “I said it will not be easy.”
He actually said it twice! Talk about a realistic job preview. Speaks to Alex’s limited options, or to his sense that Montréal and its Russophile hockey market might be the best avenue for him this season. Probably a bit of both.