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Semin skates with Canes, says goodbye to past

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Alexander Semin arrived at Raleigh Center Ice on Saturday carrying a red Washington Capitals equipment bag.

After his first skate with his new Canes teammates, Semin ditched it for a red Carolina Hurricanes bag. Call it symbolic, but that gave some added finality to the Russian forward leaving the Caps to join the Canes.

Semin had been in Raleigh less than 24 hours, meeting and greeting his new teammates for the first time in the RCI locker room. Then it was off to the ice, where the Canes put in their last informal skate before training camp, which is expected to begin Sunday.

(UPDATE: The NHLPA announced the players have voted in favor of ratifying the CBA. The memorandum of understanding was signed by the league and union Saturday night, officially ending the lockout).

While the Canes had made no announcement on Charlotte Checkers' callups, Zach Boychuk, Jeremy Welsh, Tim Wallace, Bobby Sanguinetti and Dan Ellis were on the Canes' training-camp roster released Saturday night.

"Everything so far is good," Semin said through his agent, Todd Diamond, who served as an interpreter. "Everything is new -- the team, the area, the teammates. But so far everything is positive and I have very positive thoughts coming into the season."

Semin signed a one-year, $7 million free-agent contract with the Canes in July, then joined the rest of the NHL players in limbo during the lockout. He stayed in Russia, first working out with a developmental team in his hometown of Krasnoyarsk, then playing for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in the KHL.

Semin said he believes he is in good game shape and ready for the demands of a condensed NHL season, which opens Jan. 19. He also said he did not believe it would a very tough transition playing for a Southeast Division rival he once tormented with regularity -- Semin had 27 goals and 45 points in 41 career games against Carolina.

"We're hockey players," he said. "It's our chosen life. Today the guy is the enemy, the next day he's your best buddy in another locker room."

Semin noted he has competed so many times against Carolina that he "knows the style they are playing" and is "excited to see how it will go." He said he has met with Canes coach Kirk Muller and said Muller told him he "really likes my style of play and thinks it will be a really good fit."

The Canes signed Semin to add some scoring punch to the lineup and give Eric Staal a scoring winger on his line. Semin has scored 197 career goals and has 408 points in 469 regular-season games, all with the Caps, who made him the 13th overall pick of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

Semin was a 40-goal scorer in the 2009-2010 season, but scored 28 and 21 the past two seasons. Asked if he had set any numerical goals for this season, he quickly said, "Nyet."

"I'm going to do the best I can and score as many as I can," Semin said. "I want to help the team. I want to be an important player for (Muller)."

That's what Muller and the Canes want, too.

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at chip.alexander@newsobserver.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.
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