Carolina Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin has signed for his hometown team in Russia for the NHL lockout.
Semin will play for free while at Siberian team Sokol Krasnoyarsk, which plays in Russia’s second-tier VHL league rather than the top-level KHL.
“I’m proud that the opportunity’s emerged for me to play for my hometown club,” Semin said on the VHL website.
“This club is where my hockey life started and so I’ll feel extremely good to wear a Sokol jersey. I’m happy that my relatives, friends and fans will be able to come to matches I’m playing in.”
Semin will play as No. 28 while at Sokol, the same number he wore at his former team the Washington Capitals, and will make his debut for Sokol against Kazzinc-Torpedo on Friday.
Semin was a free agent at the end of the last NHL season before signing for Carolina on a one-year, $7 million contract.
He is the latest in a string of Russian NHL stars to return home during the lockout, but the first to move to the VHL rather than the nationally televised KHL.
Semin’s former Capitals teammate Alex Ovechkin is with Dynamo Moscow, while Pavel Datsyuk is at CSKA Moscow and last season’s NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin is playing for his former team Metallurg Magnitogorsk.