In his first six NHL seasons, Alexander Semin dodged interviews in English as deftly as he sidestepped defenders.

It left his fans wondering what he was thinking. It annoyed teammates who were asked to speak for him, whether it followed one of his electrifying hat-trick performances or a scoreless one. It meant reporters had to use interpreters and second-hand translations to cobble together accounts about the Washington Capitals' second-best goal scorer.