Semenov told to 'play better'

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Defenceman Alex Semenov, the recipient of some stinging analysis from head coach Craig MacTavish last week, now finds himself paired with Chris Pronger in practice.

A partner like Pronger can be an awfully big life-preserver, so now it's up to the promising, but unproven, rearguard to either pull himself on board or hang himself with the rope.

"It's an effort to get Semmy going," said MacTavish, who hasn't been impressed with the six-foot-six Russian.

"And see, before we make a final decision on him, what he's got. He's got to play better, for sure, if he wants to stay here, but we'll give him that opportunity."

It's one that he more than welcomes.

"Prongs is a great guy and a great player," said Semenov. "I'd love to be partnered with any guy out there, but it's exciting to be out there with him.

"He knows what to do out there, he makes a lot of plays and he can help you."

Semenov, another struggling member of Edmonton's 1999 draft year (the top three picks were Jani Rita, Semenov and Tony Salmelainen) hasn't adjusted well to the new rules, nor has he provided the physical threat a player of his stature should.

He knows it as well as anyone.

"I want to be more physical, more dominating in our defensive zone, play more tough and mean out there," he said, adding MacTavish's criticism is still ringing in his ears.

"He's saying that because there's some stuff that has to improve. I'm trying to do that, every game and every practice I'm trying to work on it."

The Oilers still have four extra D-men in camp: Matt Greene, Mathieu Roy, Dan Smith and Dan Syvret.

LATE HITS ... Cliff Ronning, a 20-year NHL veteran, was in the Oilers' dressing room yesterday for the next phase of his life, that of hockey equipment rep... J.J. Hunter, sidelined by a shoulder that doesn't want to stay in place, will consult with a surgeon to decide on the best course of treatment. If he needs surgery, it's a long, long time on the shelf.


Videos

Photos