Semenov's wife nixes deal with Rangers

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PITTSBURGH - On Wednesday, the Rangers thought Alexei Semenov was signed and sealed as a No. 6 or 7 defenseman. Now they're hunting for his replacement.

Semenov, 28, a second-round draft choice of the Edmonton Oilers who recently played for San Jose and Florida, had called general manager Glen Sather for a training camp tryout and played well enough to earn a one-year, $600,000 contract.

The team announced that the 6-6 Russian had come to terms Wednesday evening, and on Thursday, Semenov's agent, Allan Walsh, posted it on Twitter.

But an "issue" developed Thurssday, the team said. On Friday, Semenov, who made the trip here but watched the Penguins' morning skate with Sather in the stands, left the team.

"He agreed, his agent agreed, but his wife didn't," Sather said. "He couldn't talk his family into it. In all my years of dealing with players, I've never had that happen before. He was crying."

Before Sather's comments, Semenov, whose wife lives in Russia, told Newsday he "would love to be here, but I don't think it's going to work out." Asked if he might play in Russia's KHL, he said, "Maybe, we'll see."

Coach John Tortorella, who had praised Semenov's conditioning and enthusiasm, said he was disappointed and that the front office will look at the waiver wire and in Hartford for help when necessary.

"I think we'll have a seventh," he said. "The next part of it is figuring it out . . . [Semenov] needs to make a decision for himself. I want people who want to be here, so if there's a little bit in between, it's time for him to go. So we wish him the best of luck and move on."

Blue chips

Sean Avery, who strained the MCL in his right knee Sept. 21, was scratched but skated Friday . . . Two Rangers made their NHL debuts: defensemen Matt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto.

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