My 45 seconds with Alexei Semenov

After getting off work tonight, I made it down to the Sharks Store @ HP Pavilion to get my jersey signed by Alexei Semenov.  I'm not exactly a stranger to these signings - the lines are notoriously long, though the exact length is dependent upon the player in question.  I usually bring a book and void my bladder beforehand.  The length of Dan Boyle's queue made me turn around and head home, for example (apparently everyone got in, but that sucker was wrapped around the arena).

Alexei Semenov's line, on the other hand, didn't exist at 5:20pm, just 50 minutes after the signing began, and 40 minutes before it was slated to end.  When I knocked on the glass door of the HP Pavilion (from which you enter the normally closed-at-5pm Sharks Store), the usher lady wasn't sure that the signing was still in progress.  I peeked in, and saw Semenov through the window, but she still had to make sure it was kosher for me to enter (which it was, of course).  As it turned out, there was a fan in line ahead of me, who threw up devil horns with his right hand, causing Alexei to humorously imitate him for their photo (I'll plunder the photo from the website once the pics are posted).

I had Alexei sign my numberless jersey, loaded with recent signatures of such luminaries as The Todd, Pickles, Luko, Shelley, and Boosh.  His signature went right below the razor sharp teeth of the shark - interpret that as you desire. 

"Thanks, Alexei."  "Sure thing, buddy."  That was the essence of our conversation, though he was extremely friendly and nice about it.  I tried my rudimentary Russian (preevyet = hi, spaceebah = thanks), mixed in with my English, in a corny attempt to be endearing - he responded in Russian to preevyet, and English to the rest.  (Note to self - do not speak foreign languages to hockey players any more)

I suppose the main reason I felt compelled to write this was because I felt embarrassed for the man - he donated his time to autograph for fans, and there were barely any there.  Had ANY other Shark been signing at 4:30pm on a Wednesday in January, the circumstances would have been different.  I know some of you were busy, and others (including myself) begrudge him for his (how shall we say this...) "miscues," and that's perfectly fine.  I just hope that Alexei's recently improved play ultimately makes up for his hitherto less-than-desirable reputation.  Think of him as a work-in-progress.  After all, our favorite whipping post is still a Shark - and still a man.


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