Nail Yakupov and The Puck

Andrey Osadchenko
January 10 2013 08:34AM

Ever since Nail Yakupov was projected to go first overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, he was a media darling. He with candid and well-spoken with Russian media and tried his best to do the same for North American media with the little command of English language he had.

And he succeeded. Think of his famous post-game interview after the semifinal game in Calgary at the 2012 World Juniors. Nail gives broken English a new meaning, and yet you are drawn to the nonsense he’s saying. Because it’s not the words you’re listening to – it’s the emotion.

His reputation was shaken by his alleged comment about Team Canada and how ‘dirty’ they play. At the World Juniors in Ufa Yakupov came out to the media once and didn’t say much even then.

He made it clear to everyone before the tournament that he doesn’t feel like talking to the media. However, the message was not understood and the reporters kept pushing but to no avail. The media got angry with Yakupov and now it seems that the fans are on the reporters’ side.

I don’t really feel like talking about why all of this is happening and why Yakupov decided to do what he did. Instead, I would like to share a story with you. A story from the World Juniors. A story that not a single reporter broke because they were blindly following the ‘dirty Canadians’ lead.

Junior hockey isn’t big in Russia - heck, is it anywhere outside of Canada? – so there is only a fistful of journalists who cover it. Elena ‘Rusko’ Kolpakova (@ElenaRusko) is one of them. She is a writer on occasion but her main line of work is photography. I may be wrong but I think she’s covered every World Junior Championship since 2008. She works for the largest news and photo agencies in Russia and is even tapping into North American market now.

Russian junior – and former junior – players are well-aware of her. It’s hard not to be when she’s your main source of your pictures from the game, though. Kolpakova has a hobby – she’s into collecting pucks. Game used pucks primarily. Every tournament she asks a few players on Team Russia to bring her a puck from the game if they have a chance.

In Ufa she asked Yakupov for the favor. Yeah, the same evil and mute Yakupov the general crowd thought they saw in Russia.

Kolpakova reminded Yakupov about the puck right before the Canada-Russia game in the round robin. Canada dominated on the ice; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Yakupov’s rival in this context – picked up three points as his team won 4-1. Russia lost their chance to win a bye to a semifinal. All of this happened on New Year’s Eve – by far a bigger holiday in Russia than Christmas is in Canada. The Russian team was heavily criticized by the media when they were winning. You can imagine what the press did to Yakupov and company after that loss. You’d think Nail would be the first one to storm off the ice after the devastating loss.

However, Yakupov stays on the ice when everyone is headed to the dressing rooms. He’s looking for Kolpakova in the stands. As soon as the eye contact is established, he raises his hand. He got her a puck. She pressed the button.

A few hours later he made this picture his profile on VK.com – a Russian social network.

Whoever had a chance to privately talk to Yakupov – even those of us who cover hockey for a living – will tell you the same thing. He’s still the guy we knew and loved. He’s an honest and reliable friend.

Who cares if for the time being he doesn’t feel like talking to the media who insists on asking the same questions day in and day out? Who cares if he thinks Team Canada plays dirty? He’s from a country that still remembers what Bobby Clarke did to Valeri Kharlamov after all.

The smallest deeds speak volumes. In Yakupov’s case it very well may be the story about the puck.

037e43b539fffeb0780fabd36a5982c4
Russian hockey reporter who moved to Canada to find himself right in the middle of hockey madness. @AOsadchenko
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#1 ItsTheBGB
January 10 2013, 08:44AM
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I want to deliver my FIST to the faces of Terry Jones, Jim Matheson, and Mark Spector!

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#2 ItsTheBGB
January 10 2013, 08:46AM
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Seriously, I haven't really heard of the fans souring on Yak. I know the media has, and it's making me mad at the media. I hope the fans will still cheer for him, because he's an amazing hockey player. Don't drive him out of town because the media men are having a hissy fit about not getting a quote on how good Justin Schultz is. BTW, Justin Schultz hasn't played a game in the NHL yet, calm down!

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#3 Irfani
January 10 2013, 08:48AM
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I dont realy care about players atitude, or anything what hapens after tje game , As long as he gives his 100% on gameday .im a happy fan

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That's a great story and a fantastic pic!

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#5 The Beaker
January 10 2013, 08:50AM
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That is a great story. Also, i do not understand why everyone got upset about the dirty canadian comment. Even if that was how he intended the statement (lost in translation anyone?) who the heck cares?

I loved it. Im Born and raised here in Alberta and that was awesome. I miss rivalry in sports comments like that occasionally are what make the game exciting and fun. Kid should have been praised for giving some punch to things. I dont imagine Don Cherry gives many interviews to Russian Media, here in Canada we've been listening to that guy Bash russians and Europeans with impunity for decades and most people love him for it but when Yakapov has a good spirit interview poorly translated we hate him? We need to get over ourselves.

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#6 Zed
January 10 2013, 08:52AM
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I love that video of Yak.

I can't wait until he does it again except replacing the words "Canada" with "The Flames"

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#7 Sloppy Joe
January 10 2013, 08:53AM
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The Canadians did play dirty, so I am amused by the firestorm following Yak's statement. It's embarassing how Canadian fans and media have such a thin skin about this stuff.

I also don't know whether to be amused or annoyed by Don Cherry's ongoing BS. His outrage about the Russian crowd cheering for the Germans in the Germany vs. Canada game is about as stupid as stupid gets.

I my fingers are crossed re Whitney's health, because I want to see him stretching passes out to Yak all season long.

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#8 Etown is....
January 10 2013, 08:58AM
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YAK CITY!!!!

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#9 Peter
January 10 2013, 08:59AM
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Interesting story, seems like a good kid. I don't think all the media has been hard on Yakupov. Gregor has been saying most media are off base on this issue ever since it happened.

Then his article yesterday made it clear Yakupov was coming and he was right.

@ItstheBGB Many fans called into Gregor's show complaining about Yak, he told them to relax. So some fans were whining about him.

I don't care what he says, I just expect him to play hard, and I bet he does. He seems to have a bit of flair, which we need in Edmonton.

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#10 Rob
January 10 2013, 09:01AM
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Honestly I've given up on traditional media. They only report what they want you to know. They want to dictate who is their favorite players and who isn't. I could care less if Yak ever talked to the media, in fact I would love if he didn't just to drive them crazy.

I love the fact we have him on the team and will be cheering loudly for him and hope the entire city gets behind him and drowns out the MSM reporters and there stupid personal agendas.

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#11 raretomediumrare
January 10 2013, 09:25AM
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I like how the media attacks him for saying Canada plays dirty, without actually considering he is right. We proved him wrong by getting numerous suspensions during the tournament.

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#12 Bushed
January 10 2013, 09:28AM
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Let's see what's going on here.

First, the kid comes to Canada to play junior so that he can learn the smaller rink and game, plus the language and the culture, so that he can be drafted to play in what he regards as the best league in the world. He says so (repeatedly) himself, as does his agent, (without losing it) after the same stupid question is asked of him 85,000 times, including repeated queries from the press in the city that actually drafted him.

Why the hell would he want to talk to the press?

Let's cut this kid some slack and give him a chance to grow as a person and a rookie player before we rush to judgment. Or is it only Canadian players who get that chance?

Welcome to Palookaville, Nail. I sincerely wish you the best of luck. Please ignore the clowns...

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#13 justDOit
January 10 2013, 09:31AM
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I'm not what's more idiotic about this entire situation - the NA media for coming down hard on a teenager who speaks English as a second language, or Cherry getting bent out of shape for the young man calling a spade a spade. The guy coached one of the dirtiest NHL teams of all time FFS!

Screw them all, Nail. Your passion for the game shines through, and I'm confident that Krueger and co can help you with the details of NHL stardom.

The one thing I can't shake though, is the feeling I get when I look at what the Oiler fans and media have done to players like Arnott, Coffey, and most recently Gilbert.

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#14 CaptainLander
January 10 2013, 09:36AM
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Media will do what media does, if there is no story they will make one up. When the Oil scouts and brass spoke about the type of player they look for attitude was one thing the consistently mentioned. I would say that Hall, Ebs and RNH have shown in there young careers that they have a drive to be professional and desire to win. If I recall the selection of Hall over Seguin had something along those lines. Which one of the two has slept through practice and now I hear trashed his room in Switzerland. Not Hall. I would expect no less from what we will see from Yak. Still think he will be a special player. Not a Torts fan but I do believe he is perfectly justified every time he tells off the media. All columns nowadays are opinion columns, facts are secondary.

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#15 Love Monkey
January 10 2013, 09:49AM
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I fell in love with Yakupov when I saw this and was so pleased that we got him. We have a lot of soft-spoken, good ol' Canadian boys and can use this type of energy and attitude.

Just imagine: "We win. All peoples wearing red jerseys. It's Calgary, but we win so that's it. We scored more goals. Edmonton better than Calgary.

Frankly, I could care less what the media thinks. And I don't get the criticism because Yakupov arrived late last night and hasn't even done a local scrum yet. He should be getting the same royal treatment that we gave to Hall and RNH (and that the media are quick to give to Schultz right now).

This guy is the number one draft pick, the best player among his peers. Let's make him feel welcome and enjoy a long, 20 year relationship.

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#16 Will
January 10 2013, 09:54AM
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What Oiler fans are sour on Yak? Not a single one of my hockey ravenous friends are down on him. Everyone I know and talk to cares about one thing Yak did this year: score a ton of points in the KHL on a crap team.

The talent in our top six is nuts, there is not one other single team with as much talent up front as the Oilers. If Tambellini is able to build a team around that, there is no reason not to dominate.

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#17 #94 sized hole where my heart used to be...
January 10 2013, 10:01AM
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I've loved everything Yak has done and this whole mess has just made me more disenchanted with the tradtional media.. it just seemed at the time, and still does, that theyre just a few old guys complaining about "kids these days" if anything all this BS he's had to go through will make me cheer him harder just so he knows that despte what a few old guys in the paper say, we the fans, want Yak to be here and be his spectacular goal scoring self

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#18 book¡e
January 10 2013, 10:01AM
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I think that even the general public is starting to realize that the MSM is mostly becoming a gossip column. I honestly don't think many people have bought into the media comments regarding Yakupov.

I think once they see him scoring some goals in an Oiler uniform - they will love him.

I hope that Ralph gives him some easy minutes so that he can get some points early so that no 'question marks' pop up in the media.

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#19 justDOit
January 10 2013, 10:05AM
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@Andrey: Thanks for this article. You say that the fans have not forgotten about the Clarke incident - how about the Hawerchuk incident from this goal?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruloAuFazcg

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#20 freeze
January 10 2013, 10:20AM
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I hope Nail pays no attention to the MSM babies. Their inane gripes seem to get more and more ridiculous as their medium becomes more and more irrelevant. The Oilers need swagger, attitude and a strong desire to win. I'm sick of polite, passive players!

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#21 ray
January 10 2013, 10:24AM
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gods almighty...he's just a kid..cut him some slack...i think sometimes people dont realize that translating from one language to the other..sometimes doesn't come out the same...just let him be!....i personally cant wait to see him on the ice...after 2-3 years...then i will judge his playing abilities!!!!...we have had enough crap talent here throughout most of the 90's and 00's....Go Nail!!!!!!

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#22 Fili
January 10 2013, 10:27AM
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This kid is going to be a beast on this team. I personally love the comments he made at the WJC, I bet Canada vs Russia game had the most viewers watching. The kid knows how to sell hype and I love him for it. We need this on our team we need someone to stir the pot get under opposing teams skin and best of all he can back it up with his play. I just wish we had an enforcer with the same kind of attitude.

Yak welcome to Edmonton, the only questions I had about you was whether or not to get your jersey in home or away. Kids a stud

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#23 striatic
January 10 2013, 10:42AM
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Andrey, thank you for counter programming the utter tripe that comes out of the Canadian media about the Russians, KHL and Yakupov in particular.

This storyline is way more fun.

Regarding "Dirty Canadians". beyond calling a spade a spade, Yakupov wasn't even complaining. he said his team was ready. he wasn't whining for longer suspensions or more penalties to be called in advance of the matchup. he wasn't even saying Canada should change its style of play or that their style wasn't welcome in the tournament.

he said his team was ready for it. period. that isn't disrespect for Canada, that's the ultimate respect.

even the famous Calgary post victory video showed tons of respect for Canada. he says "we beat CANADA", emphasis his. he's obviously thinks beating Canada is a big deal and is excited about it. he isn't saying "Canada thinks they are so good but they aren't." instead he's blown away by winning in an environment of screaming Canadians, against an impressive Canadian team that got lots of shots.

i get the sense that Yak doesn't hate Canada in the slightest. he LOVES playing Canada, playing in Canada and most importantly BEATING CANADA.

if that isn't the ultimate sign of respect, i don't know what is.

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#24 Ben
January 10 2013, 10:43AM
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Thank you for no feedin the crapstorm like some others. Some if the medias need to smash and bash Is just a show of mental simplicity. We are lucky to have "the yak"!!

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#25 @Oilanderp
January 10 2013, 10:54AM
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The MSM should revolve around the Yak and his wishes, NOT vice versa. Don't forget your place, "reporters".

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#26 The Beaker
January 10 2013, 11:17AM
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Can we have a national discussion about how terrible Don Cherry is/has gotten? Needs to be done.

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#27 westcoastoil
January 10 2013, 11:17AM
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Terry Jones has been pumping negativity since the 80's - that's his schtick, it's easy to do and it was tired back then. That's also why fewer and fewer people go outside the MSM for news.

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#28 justDOit
January 10 2013, 11:22AM
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@striatic

Very good points - his words and actions show a tonne of respect for Canada.

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#29 bazmagoo
January 10 2013, 11:42AM
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The Canadian junior team always plays dirty, 2 of them got suspended in the first couple of games for dirty late hits targeting the head of the opposition. I'm not sure how you can argue that, it's a fact!

Sports journalists in Edmonton are some of the most dramatic whiners I've ever seen. That Terry Jones guy is a complete loser who has never seen a cheese burger he didn't like, how that guy can offer any opinion on what an athlete thinks is beyond me.

If those dummies drive Yakupov out of town I will be hunting them down! lol, kidding of course

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#30 bdiddy18
January 10 2013, 11:54AM
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Goon Jenner is dirty - he was last year and they still kept on the team this year after he cheap shots on a super later hit that removed a young sweedish kid from the entire tournament.

Canadian Hockey fans love to dish dirt just don't like taking any back so Yak called Canada out..so what he was right!

so we got a potential sharp tounge in the Oilers dressing room - GOOD!! that room is to subdued anyways - boring convos, same old cliches, no emotion when speaking... if Yak just changes that one aspect of the Oilers - we are already better off.

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#31 justDOit
January 10 2013, 11:55AM
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@bazmagoo

I will join you in kidding about that!

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#32 @Oilanderp
January 10 2013, 11:55AM
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That pinko commie can't fool us with his actions! We know his real intention is to undermine democracy and freedom in Canada!

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#33 Simpsonite
January 10 2013, 11:57AM
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As a gentleman that works in the political world...anybody who refuses to speak to the media is perfect in my books.

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#34 VK63
January 10 2013, 11:58AM
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Personally I find the kid to be a card.

Its almost comical that they (msm) would bare their teeth on a teenage kid with some moxie rather than the cast of also rans that have gained "acceptance" within their circle.

Welcome to etown Yak!

AND

Looking forward to your rockstar persona getting you in all kinds of situations...... put the pedal down kid..... this town needs it..... as this endless run of "nice and polished" has gotten this organization bottom feeder rights for far too long.

Bring it!!!!!

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#35 Rob...
January 10 2013, 12:16PM
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I don't think many fans have soured on Yakupov, and as long as he remains sincere in what he says I won't fault him for his take on Canadians, Canadian style hockey, Edmonton, or the Oilers organization.

By the way, his twitter feed has a smattering of comments demanding he tweet in English instead of Russian. Ignoring the stupidity of those demands, here's a helpful hint: If you use Chrome as your web-browser, right-click on any webpage after it has loaded and one of the options should be 'Translate to...' Click on it and a bar should open at the top of the page giving you options as to what language you want to convert the page into. Very helpful when you want to see how a European prospect is being viewed in the local press or when feeling unjustifiable rage that a PERSON dare tweet in his/her native tongue.

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#36 EHH Team
January 10 2013, 12:49PM
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My wife & I travelled to Rome via Vancouver & Franfurt in November, the day after the end of the Subway Series. The Russian junior team was on the same flight from Vancouver to Frankfurt. Nail was wearing an Oilers' tee shirt under his Russian team jacket. I had the opportunity to make a bit of small talk with him while we were boarding the flight. I found him to be very pleasant and my take was that he was looking very much forward to playing in Edmonton.

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#37 striatic
January 10 2013, 01:23PM
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EHH Team wrote:

My wife & I travelled to Rome via Vancouver & Franfurt in November, the day after the end of the Subway Series. The Russian junior team was on the same flight from Vancouver to Frankfurt. Nail was wearing an Oilers' tee shirt under his Russian team jacket. I had the opportunity to make a bit of small talk with him while we were boarding the flight. I found him to be very pleasant and my take was that he was looking very much forward to playing in Edmonton.

it's the little things.

he was also wearing his copper and blue Oilers gloves in games.

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#38 hotstovebb
January 10 2013, 01:45PM
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I watched ALOT of KHL during the lockout and got to see quite a few Metallurg NK games. Yak is an exciting player who worked hard and is well-liked by the fans there. The Oilers have tremendous potential, and he's part of it. It would be a shame to poison the atmosphere by blindly swallowing the Cherry kool-aid. Nice to see the Oilers getting behind the young man.

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#39 Milli
January 10 2013, 01:45PM
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This game desperatly needs caracters. I hope he lights it up on the ice, and tell the truth off the ice! I want some personality. Anyone remember Hall getting ripped for saying that he expects to beat a team ( I think it was Detroit). That is what the media in Canada does. If I was a reporter, I want more Roeniks, Yakupovs!

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#40 MAC962
January 10 2013, 01:46PM
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Yak- Bring your passion and i am sure you will to your new home away from home. You will be embraced here, you could become a hero here. Edmonton is Home , we live and breathe Hockey. Speak your mind, Love your team mates. Something special is going to happen here, we know it, you know it. Become one of us. You are .....an Edmonton Oiler, and we have come back from our Slumber to take back what is ours. Welcome and enjoy the Ride Nail.

NHL... Be afraid - be very afraid. We are back and we dont forget.

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#41 hotstovebb
January 10 2013, 01:49PM
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Sorry about that. Yak played for Neftekhimik. All this flak reminds me of Lupul's piece about his cup of coffee in the KHL. You have to admire someone who's willing to take such big chances.

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#42 MAC962
January 10 2013, 01:53PM
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Can you see this kid with the C on his jersey one day ? Yes, Nuge and Ebs and Hall would be great captains, but there is something about Yak. I think this kid is like Taylor in he is fearless, Natural goal scorer like Nuge is a passer. Look Out. He plays for his team and teamates no matter what team he is on.

All i can say is ...LETS GO OILERS !!! Jan 19th Take it out and destroy the flames.

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#43 justDOit
January 10 2013, 01:58PM
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@hotstovebb

That's funny. The last time I had cherry koolaid, it came right back up a few hours later - must have been the 30-some ounces of vodka that I mixed it into. That's right - no water. Don't try this at home, kids.

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#45 John
January 10 2013, 01:59PM
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hotstovebb wrote:

I watched ALOT of KHL during the lockout and got to see quite a few Metallurg NK games. Yak is an exciting player who worked hard and is well-liked by the fans there. The Oilers have tremendous potential, and he's part of it. It would be a shame to poison the atmosphere by blindly swallowing the Cherry kool-aid. Nice to see the Oilers getting behind the young man.

Just for the record, Nail played in the KHL for Neftechemik, Nizhnekamsk not Metallurg NK. I'm looking forward to seeing if Nugent-Hopkins & Yakupov will have any chemistry on the ice. Also an amusing side note, apparently Neftchemik translates to something like "Oil Scientists".

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#47 justDOit
January 10 2013, 02:29PM
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@Andrey Osadchenko

Many similarities between Nizhnekamsk and Edmonton, although I'm betting that Nizhnekamsk roads have fewer pot-holes.

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#48 Sanaa Montana
January 10 2013, 02:34PM
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Peter wrote:

Interesting story, seems like a good kid. I don't think all the media has been hard on Yakupov. Gregor has been saying most media are off base on this issue ever since it happened.

Then his article yesterday made it clear Yakupov was coming and he was right.

@ItstheBGB Many fans called into Gregor's show complaining about Yak, he told them to relax. So some fans were whining about him.

I don't care what he says, I just expect him to play hard, and I bet he does. He seems to have a bit of flair, which we need in Edmonton.

Does Gregor screen the calls? Why would he alllow many simpletons on to complain about something fabricated by some sour grapes in the CND MSM?

The Tatar son of Jacob will play hard and compete. He loves to compete against Canadian hockey players, and I believe it will be no different with the ones on his team. They will try to out do one another night in night out, which will translate to some of the prettiest hockey the sh!t show that calls itself the NHL has seen in a long time.

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#49 Manfly
January 10 2013, 02:35PM
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Zed wrote:

I love that video of Yak.

I can't wait until he does it again except replacing the words "Canada" with "The Flames"

LOL...right on !!!

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#50 Fili
January 10 2013, 02:36PM
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@MAC962

Awesome, we will never forget all the years of abuse our team, and city has taken over the last few years. All the critics, and synics saying our team is garbage. Go on and hate all you want, we all know what's going to take place in the next few years. Every team in the league had the same opportunities as us like Pitts & Chi town and washington, even Colorado, is on the up and up.

Our team is special cause its our team and we have history in this league. And it's just history coming back around to us. just think islanders are another team just like us with potential just like back in the 80's

Now it's our turn to be loud and proud Yak, hall, ebs, nuge, and Schultz might be the core but I'm just as excited about our original team as well don't forget most of our team has been with us their whole careers as well; smid, petry, gags, dubby, hemsky, smyth. This team has amazing potential sure we could use a few tweaks but what team couldn't?

Glad to see oil faithful standing behind these young guns and being proud parents ready to pounce on anyone who try's to hurt them. This is a great time to be a fan.

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