You aren't allowed to say Alex Semin's not truculent unless you can also take down Brooks Orpik with a perfectly executed drop kick.

There’s a multitude of jokes I could open this post with. I won’t. I’ll laugh at them in my head, sure, because I’m….8. But at the end of the day, he’s a millionaire professional athlete so whatever fun I could possibly make of him is juvenile and won’t change the fact that his life is probably way more kickass than mine. You win, Alex Semin!

Unfortunately, you also lose, Alex Semin. Because, apparently, NHL clubs are way more hesitant to sign you than they should be. Or, than you’d think they should be, according to some Luke Fox campaigning in a Sportsnet article summarizing relevant points and quotes on Tuesday: the polar opposite of a TSN panel absolutely destroying Semin earlier this year. The variance in the MSM opinion alone suggests some legitimacy to the controversies delaying a player of Semin’s skill from signing a UFA contract.

For a team as strapped for frontline players as the Toronto Maple Leafs, one has to ask the question (ugh, I feel dirty even channeling that sentence) of whether or not he’s worth considering. Just what are the pros and cons of Toronto acquiring this player?

Pro: Every day Semin’s still on the board drops his eventual contract value just a little bit, if past examples are to be believed. Whoever gets him now will almost certainly sign the player for a value that does not reflect the numbers he’s amassed thus far in his career.

Con: The very fact that Semin’s still on the board despite those amassed numbers speaks volumes about the rumours surrounding his character as a player and – even if they’re not as true as many would have us believe – legitimizes them enough to be a concern. The NHL is a relatively small community. A not-quite-collective negative opinion of a player that’s this widespread doesn’t just come from nothing.

Pro: In his past 3 NHL seasons, Semin has scored 89 goals in 215 games, which is good for a 0.414 GPG pace. Phil Kessel, by comparison, has scored 99 in 234 games at a 0.423 GPG pace. As far as the numbers are concerned, they’re fairly similar scorers. By that one-dimensional and poor logic, Semin instantly becomes one of the Leafs‘ best fowards.

Con: Alex Semin achieved those numbers because, arguably, he spent a lot of time playing with two unquestionably elite linemates in Alex Ovechkin and Nik Backstrom. Phil Kessel, on the other hand, spent most of that time playing with A) Joffrey Lupul, B) a revolving cast of wooden mannequins labelled ‘CENTRE’ being towed on a rope behind Joffrey Lupul, or C) Players that had no place on an NHL scoring line.

Pro: If we embrace the xenophobia for its own good, you have to believe that a line of Kulemin – Grabovski – Semin would be fairly terrific. A checker with offensive tendencies, a playmaker/leader with puck possession abilities, and a speedy pure sniper – perfection! And my ignorant Canadian perspective says they’re all Russian (FACT: Two of them are, Grabovski’s Belorussian), so that means they’d get along and play well and be friends, right?!

Con: The blue-collared North American hockey faithful would cite Alex Semin as the absolute embodiment of the “lazy, indifferent Russian” stereotype – until someone mentions Alex Kovalev, and they have to re-evaluate Semin as a close second. Thing is, they might not be wrong – making the PR spin of his potential addition to Brian Burke’s “character-based Toronto Maple Leafs” virtually impossible.

Pro: Semin’s playoff statistics are considerably less impressive than his regular season numbers.

Con: Playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Semin’s performance in the playoffs isn’t likely to be a relevant issue.

Thursday Morning Links!

Clayton Hansler blogs for, talking specifically about the Leafs‘ depth acquisitions of players with Calder Cup experience – specifically Mike Kostka, Dylan Yeo, and Keith Aucoin. This can’t be bad, right?

-The Leafs added Steve Staios to their list of front office personnel. He will “advise management on prospects and players at all levels of the organization.” Staios retired this summer after a disastrous season (65 games, 0 goals, 8 assists, -19) with the New York Islanders. He’s 39. Good hiring, I guess. If it were a few years ago and Cliff were in charge, it might have been a 3-year signing.

-At Pension Plan Puppets, Steve Burtch introduces you to the world of advanced statistics and Toronto Maple Leafs. It is not a prerequisite that you read this to watch hockey. But oh, man – if you can whip some of these numbers out in an argument, it shuts people up on Twitter real fast.

-Mentioned in Alec’s mashup yesterday but worth mentioning again is that the Niagara Falls Reporter hasn’t fired the columnist who wrote that horrible anti-“You Can Play” piece. I think that at this point, the only recourse that we justice-respecting, rational citizens have is to find the writer’s email and sign him up for a bunch of online weight loss trial offers, virus-laden spam, and obscure porn.

-The NHL has finished outlining its first CBA proposal’s details to the NHLPA, because apparently, it needed to be more clear than it was in the first joke leaked version.

-The NHLPA is also preparing its first counterproposal which, I have to assume, will just be their negotiating committee walking into the room and performing a re-enactment of Braveheart’s pre-battle mooning scene.

A trailer for Behind the Draft 2012