MOSCOW, January 16 (R-Sport) – Forward Alexander Semin did not make Russia’s Olympic ice hockey roster because his performances this season were not good enough, head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said Wednesday.
Semin’s absence from the Sochi Winter Olympics has provoked intense debate in Russia since the 25-man squad was announced last week. The Carolina Hurricanes’ right wing started the season slowly and missed almost a month with concussion but has earned nine points in 11 games since returning to fitness.
“We knew that this decision would surprise a lot of people,” Bilyaletdinov said. “But we watched a lot of games. I saw him several times. We came to the opinion that for now he doesn’t make it onto the roster. He didn’t play as we expected, that’s why we made this decision.”
Semin, 29, was part of the 2010 Russian Olympic team that recorded the country’s worst ever result, a 7-3 defeat to Canada in the quarter-final. He won two world championship gold medals in 2008 and 2012, registering doubles in both finals.
Dallas Stars rookie Valeri Nichushkin is one of the players picked ahead of Semin.
“The national team needs a guy with such energy and desire,” Bilyaletdinov said. “I don’t know yet how I will use him, but I have some thoughts. He plays very well in the first line, not always stable.”
It was also announced Wednesday that Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk will captain Russia’s team at the Games, which run from February 7-23.