December 27 2012 09:36AM
Nail Yakupov is awesome. I'm not talking about his on-ice talents, which are pretty damn good; I'm referring to his ability to be honest. He isn't walking cliché, and I hope the Oilers don't try and neuter his vocal cords when he eventually suits up for them.
In case you missed it here is the article from Rsport that got some Canadians fired up.
Yakupov was asked his thoughts regarding the Canada/Russia game on New Year's Eve.
"I understand that I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations. Especially against the Canadians. These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in the North America, so our team is ready."
There is nothing wrong with what he said. Nothing. In his eyes he feels the Canadians play dirty, and Boone Jenner's three-game suspension suggests Yakupov is right. I like rivalries in hockey, we don't have enough of them anymore, but I'm worried we won't have many in the future if people get upset over calling our junior team dirty.
What Yakupov deems "dirty" is likely much different than what I or you think is "dirty" on the ice. And that is what's great about it. If anything his comments just made the December 31st meeting a bit more enticing. Oiler fans should have no problem getting fired up to watch their 2011 and 2012 first overall draft picks go head-to-head, and Yakupov's comments only enhanced the Canada/Russia rivalry.
Rather than rip Yakupov, I want to applaud him for being honest, and being savvy enough to toss out a little pre-tournament jab.
I was more confused by Don Cherry's twitter response/rant to Yakupov's comments. Yakupov's comment was pretty straightforward, while Cherry, In a series of five tweets, was all over the map.
I see where Nail Yakupov said Canadian hockey players are dirty. Let me see... We let him take a Canadian kids spot in the Canadian Hockey League, let him learn his hockey in our program, treat him royally, give him great coaching so he can go number one overall and he calls us dirty. Canadian people are no naïve, no let me change that word to dumb. We love everybody and everybody hates us. Like I said, when you hear Russians cheering for Germans you have to wonder. And the kid Yakupov is just being honest as that's how he feels about us. I could care less what Nail thinks of us, what bugs me, he took a Canadian kids spot in the Canadian Hockey League.
Last I checked, when Canada hosts the WJC the fans usually cheer for the underdog in games not involving Canada. Last year in Edmonton fans cheered for Denmark, and in Calgary they rooted for Latvia. This isn't new. Did Grapes expect the Russian fans to cheer for Canada to continue to kick the crap out of Germany?
I understand if some don't want imports taking jobs from Canadian kids in the CHL, but don't fool yourself Mr. Cherry the CHL wants the top imports playing in the CHL because the leagues get money when those top players are drafted into the NHL. The CHL wants these kids as bad as the kids want to play here, and sometimes even more considering how much some top-end Euros have
allegedly been paid to come play in the CHL.
I'm more perplexed by Cherry's thin skin to the allegation of Canadians playing dirty. Are we seriously that insecure that we can't handle being called dirty? I'd take that as a compliment. It is clear Canada has loads of skill, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' five-point night v. Germany, and if they mix ina little grit/dirty play to their game, then good on our young lads.
I credit them for getting Russia's best player's attention, and rather than rip on Yakupov, I want to thank him for adding a bit of animosity to the Canada/Russia rivalry. His words weren't offensive, far from it, but they did get some Canadian fans attention and that's great.
Let's just hope it adds some extra energy into their upcoming match on December 31st.
- 2012 was the first time in the history of the NHL draft that a Canadian-born forward wasn't drafted in the first 15 picks. Tom Wilson went 16th to Washington.
- Nugent-Hopkins' five-point game v. Germany was a solid performance, but two points short of the single-game Canadian record. Three players own the record. Gabriel Bourque had 3 goals and 4 assists in 2009 in a 16-0 blowout over Latvia, in 2001, Mike Cammalleri had 3 goals and 4 helpers in a 15-0 romp over France while Dave Andreychuk tallied 3 goals and 4 assists in a 13-0 drubbing of Norway in 1983.
- Peter Forsberg holds the record. He scored ten points, 3 goals and 7 assists, in a 20-1 victory over Japan in 1993. Russian Yevgeni Kusnetsov had 3 goals and 6 assists last year in Calgary, during a 14-0 win over Latvia.
- Speaking of skills. Are we coaching the proper skills to our minor hockey players? Read here.
- I had conversations with an NHL executive and a veteran NHL player over the holidays. I don't like to quote players or management without attributing them, but both would only speak off the record. I respect that, but also found it positive that both seemed to be on the same page. The GM wasn't from a Canadian market.
- The elite NHL player said, "I believe we will be playing soon. I think we are close enough to get a deal done. We'd be foolish not to make a deal."
- The GMs responded to my question regarding the season with, "We are too close not to get a deal done. I think we can't afford to have any more damage done to the reputation of our game. We'd feel it in our market."
- If other owners/GMs and players feel the same as these two, which they should, then hopefully we'll see NHL hockey in first few months of 2013.
- Got confirmation that there is nothing in the NHL governance that states a season has to have at least 48 games. That is a number both sides would like to see, but it isn't set in stone.
- Would they play a 36-game season? A home and away v. teams in your conference (20 games) and then four games v. divisional opponents (16 games). My sources claim they haven't thought that far, but I won't be shocked if they play a season with fewer than 48 games. Ideally they'd want 48, but I don't see them cancelling the season if they can't play 48 games, but less than 40 seems unlikely. Sadly, the lockout could drag on for another 50 days.
On Friday, Kerry bid $7,500 on the dinner package, Kris bid $2,000 for the Eberle OKC jersey and Jim showed up at the Pint and donated $1,000 just because. AWESOME.
My 2nd annual "Month of Giving" was a huge success. Thanks again to all the sponsors who donated packages and to all who bid on a package. During the 15 days we raised $51,650.00 for various charities and helped thousands of families. In two years we've raised $106,900.00. THANK YOU
It is a lot of work putting together the packages, but it is worth it when we end up helping out so many less people who really need a boost during the Christmas season. Trust me your bids made a big difference in their lives.
Thank you very much, and God bless you all.