The Washington Capitals' efforts to force prospect Alexander Semin to return from Russia and honor his NHL contract were dealt a setback in U.S. District Court in Washington yesterday.
Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. denied the Capitals' motion to issue preliminary injunctions against Semin and his agent, Mark Gandler, saying in his opinion the team did not prove a "substantial likelihood of success on the merits."
Semin, a highly touted left wing, played for the Capitals during the 2003-04 season. But when the team asked him to report to the minor leagues during last year's NHL lockout, the 21-year-old said he couldn't leave Russia because he hadn't completed his mandatory two-year military service, a claim the Capitals have dismissed as bogus. Semin has instead been playing professionally in the Russian Super League, despite having two years remaining on his Capitals contract.
Kennedy cited two reasons for denying the Capitals' request: the potential for arbitration under the NHL's collective bargaining agreement and the court's inability to inquire "into the validity" of Semin's military obligation.
"As of this time, he's is playing for Khimik," said Semin's lawyer, Alexander Berkovich. "This is where he plans to finish the season and complete his military service by next fall."
The Capitals are pondering their next legal move.
"The fight goes on," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. In other Capitals' news, prospect Chris Bourque yesterday was named to the U.S. National Junior team, which will compete in the 2006 World Junior Championship Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in British Columbia. Bourque, the 19-year-old son of Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque, is currently playing for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.
* COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Forty-one percent of this year's bowl-bound teams fall below the NCAA's new academic benchmark, and almost half of them lacked a 50 percent graduation rate, according to an annual survey released yesterday.
The 56 Division I-A teams headed to bowl games have a lingering problem of too many student-athletes failing to complete their studies, said Richard Lapchick, the University of Central Florida professor who authored the annual report. . . .
Louisville senior defensive end Elvis Dumervil won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the best defensive player in college football. . . .
San Diego State coach Tom Craft was fired after four seasons.
* GOLF: In Winter Garden, Fla., former Kentucky star John Holmes, who helped the United States win the Walker Cup this past summer, became the first player in 22 years to leave college and win the PGA Tour qualifying tournament.
* BOXING: Lorenzo Parra of Venezuela successfully defended his WBA flyweight title for the fifth time, scoring a unanimous decision over Frenchman Brahim Asloum in Paris.
-- From News Services
and Staff Reports