Saturday, March 5, 2016
Born on this date in 1962, Anatoli Semenov was born during a generation of Soviet players who would live to have the freedom to play in North America that players born just ten years earlier would not enjoy, such as the great goaltender Vladislav Tretiak.
Semenov began is top level career with Dynamo Moscow of the Soviet Championship League back in the 1979-80, the first of 11 seasons as Dynamo's top player, which included leading them in scoring three times and being named an All-Star in 1985. His most notable seasons came in 1982-83 with 22 goals in 44 games, 1986-87 with 44 points in 40 games and his final season with Dynamo in 1989-90 when they finally wrestled the championship away from Central Red Army in 1990 following 13 straight titles for CSKA and the club's first since 1954.
Dynamo Moscow team captain Semenov
With the political situation of the Soviet Union in flux, Semenov was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1989 Entry Draft in hopes of him eventually being allowed to leave for the NHL in the not too distant future, as the veteran center was 27 years old at the time of his being drafted.
He was soon able to join the Oilers, when after Dynamo secured the 1990 championship, he arrived in Canada in time to play two playoff games with the Oilers, who would go on to win the Stanley Cup at the conclusion of the playoffs, although he did not meet the requirements to have his name engraved on the cup.
His first full season with Edmonton, Semenov saw action in 57 games and scored 31 points. Additionally, he would score another 10 points in a dozen playoff games. His offensive production took a sizable step forward as his comfort level with life and hockey in North America rose during the 1991-92 season, when in 59 games Semenov scored 20 goals and 42 points.
Not having established himself as a regular in the Oilers lineup, he was left unprotected in the 1992 Expansion Draft, which made him available to be selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning. His stay in Florida was short-lived, as, after just 13 games, he was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks who were looking for another Russian to play alongside Pavel Bure. The combination worked well, particularly in the first half of the season, which led to Semenov setting a career high with 49 points for the year.
After tailing off during the second half of the season, he was once again left unprotected for another expansion draft, this time being chosen by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for their inaugural season of 1992-93. Once again he was hard pressed to play every night, and finished the season with just 49 games and 30 points.
He began the 1994-95 season with the Mighty Ducks, but after just 15 games, he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, with whom he played 26 games in the regular season and 15 in the postseason.
The 1995-96 season was a mirror image of the previous one, as he began the season with the Flyers, who traded him back to the Mighty Ducks. His final NHL season saw him sign with the Buffalo Sabres, with whom he played 25 games before retiring after 362 games, 68 goals and 126 assists for 194 points.
Prior to coming to the NHL Semenov had an accomplished international career, playing for the Soviet Union National Team during the European Junior Championships in 1980, the World Junior Championships in 1981 and 1982, where he scored 5 goals and 13 points in 7 games, the 1984 and 1987 Canada Cup tournaments, Rendezvous '87 against the NHL All-Stars, the 1987 World Championships, the 1988 Olympics and joined Dynamo Riga for their Super Series tour of North America in 1988-89 in addition to his participation with Dynamo Moscow in the Super Series in 1985-86 and 1989-90, all of which made him well known to NHL clubs prior to his being drafted by the Oilers.
Semenov while with Dynamo Riga during the Super Series '89
Today's featured jersey is a 1989-90 Edmonton Oilers Anatoli Smeneov jersey, which unusually features a captain's "K". The story behind the Cyrillic "K" being used to designate the team's captain on Semenov's jersey in place of the standard Latin "C" was that the Oilers were scheduled to play a game versus the Soviet Central Red Army team as part of the 1990-91 Super Series against one of the touring Soviet teams on January 6, 1991 and regular Oilers team captain Mark Messier opted to sit out the exhibition contest in order to rest his sore leg, leaving the Oilers without a captain.
The team then held a vote and elected Semenov their honorary captain for the day against many of his former national team teammates. It was at this point that the Oilers equipment staff, possessing a sense of history and fun, made a "K" for Semenov's jersey to be worn that night and glued it onto his jersey, creating one of the most unique jerseys in the long history of the NHL.
The jersey itself is the standard Oilers jersey of the era, first worn when they became members of the NHL in 1979 and used through the 1995-96 season with only a few minor variations, mainly in the fonts used for the numbers the first two seasons, and it's best known for being the jersey worn for five Stanley Cup championships.
Here is Semenov scoring against the NHL All-Stars during Rendez Vous '87 for the Soviet Union and paying the price with his body after being tripped.