NAILING IT: BRING IT ON

Robin Brownlee
June 25 2012 07:57PM

It's difficult to read any commentary about Nail Yakupov these days without seeing references to him being confident or cocky. It's a fine line, and often in the eye of the beholder. Whatever you choose to call it, the Edmonton Oilers can use more of it, if you ask me.

If there's a bit of a strut in Yakupov's stride and a degree too much bravado in his words for some (and how can there not be, given the shirt he showed up at EIA in the other day?), that's fine by me, assuming the kid can play. That's no small matter, of course.

That caveat aside, I'm looking forward to my first live look at the dynamic Sarnia Sting winger on the blades when Yakupov and other prospects take to the ice at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park Wednesday – after the team announces who the new head coach is.

Fact is, no young man makes it this close to the NHL without beating long odds and being confident in his abilities, whether the tone is understated or over the top, a place on the scale where a lot of people seem to put Yakupov. I don't see any need for him to be apologetic about being here.

A team that's been out of the playoffs for six straight seasons and beaten down like a band class nerd having his head held in the toilet the past three seasons, in particular, could use some of that, no? I say, bring it on.

CONFIDENT OR COCKY?

From James Mirtle at the Globe and Mail: "Yakupov joins a growing cast of elite young talent in Edmonton that’s led by Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – all of whom were taken in the first round in the past four drafts.

Both Hall and Nugent-Hopkins – the first overall picks in 2010 and 2011 – stepped into the NHL immediately after they were drafted, something Yakupov believes he is prepared for.

"I think yeah, why not?" he said, doing little to dispel his reputation as somewhat cocky. "I have lots of time for work in the summer and work with Edmonton (to) try to make the team. I think I’m ready for the NHL."

From Rob Tychkowski at the Edmonton Sun: "One thing I do know is he’s a very confident kid, he’s a very proud individual," GM Steve Tambellini said. "He had no hesitation telling me he was the No.1 pick.

"I love the confidence, and with that comes the courage to back it up and I don’t think he lacks any courage in his ability, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to see him play with some of our skilled people."

Yakupov thinks he's ready for the NHL? The gall. What a blowhard.

THE WAY I SEE IT

Jason Gregor has long insisted the Oilers are too easy to play against, lack edge and don't piss anybody off. I agree completely. There's no question they've collected an impressive array of young talent in the time they've spent face down in the basement of NHL standings, but whom in the core group, aside from maybe Hall, has some swagger or gets under anybody's skin?

Bob Stauffer put it well the other day, referencing Nugent-Hopkins as a fine young player but somebody who wouldn't say "crap" if his mouth was full of it. I've got a feeling that won’t be the case with Yakupov, and it says here a little confidence worn on the sleeve is not only welcome, but a necessary change-up.

Successful teams need a mix of skill-sets and players willing and capable of taking on different roles. They also, in the name of balance, need a mix of personalities and characters – quiet guys, thoughtful types, holler guys and balls-out types. This team has had too much of the former and not enough of the latter in recent seasons. Now comes Nail.

If Yakupov talks the talk and can walk the walk, filling our notebooks as well as the net (I recall Rob Schremp having the first part down pat but coming up miserably short on results), there's nothing not to like, whether you call him confident or cocky. Wednesday, we get a glimpse of what's to come.

Walk the walk, kid. Strut and all.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 russ99
June 26 2012, 11:01AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

He's going to be trouble.

No way.

If the Omark debacle proved anything it's that people are way too uptight in the organization and they put conformity ahead of winning.

Yakupov will shatter that mentality.

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#52 tileguy
June 26 2012, 11:12AM
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Ben Eager was suppose to be that man, some speed, a little skill and could throw them. What would it take to get him to be "that man", a million dollar raise, is being the team cop something you can motivate?

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#53 non descript
June 26 2012, 11:22AM
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expect plenty of drama with this player. he will upset the chemistry the oil brass worked so hard to clean up a couple of years ago. one too many alpha dogs. this will not work out well.

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#54 Bushed
June 26 2012, 11:33AM
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"I'd be for getting somebody who makes cheapshot guys on other teams sh!t themselves just with one glare -- and who can back it up by beating somebody senseless every now and then just to reinforce the message.

The Oilers had that guy in Steve MacIntyre"

Agree 1000%.

Do you think Parros can do the job?

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#55 Brownlee loves the word meow
June 26 2012, 11:33AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

"This team, more than anything needs shotgun help, put some extra padding in that helmet Yak, you're going to need it."

I agree, but whenever this issue comes up we get a lot of blah-blah-blah about wasting a roster spot on "knuckle-draggers" and "goons" because people want the best of both words -- a beat cop who'll protect the kids and who can play more than three minutes. I get that, and it's the ideal situation, but you can't just snap your fingers and find that easily.

Ben Eager? No. Who did he scare off last season? Darcy Hordichuk? At least he knows his role. I'd be for getting somebody who makes cheapshot guys on other teams sh!t themselves just with one glare -- and who can back it up by beating somebody senseless every now and then just to reinforce the message.

The Oilers had that guy in Steve MacIntyre but, nooooooooooo, he had to go because he wasn't a good enough player, he was just a "knuckle-dragger."

Meow There are many ways of deterring.. I think crazy people are just as intimidating, if not more so that big goons. Tootoo for instance is a crazy person. If you hit Nuge... who knows what Tootoo would do? He could jump over the glass and start beating the crap out of your girlfriend, or two hand your goalie in the face... That might be the ultimate deterrent. Not no mention the other team is usually concentrated on going after him rather than your star players. Could cause more trouble than he is worth? maybe. maybe not. I would go after ott most notably if he is actually available, also a guy like Konopka wouldn't hurt. If you had a line of Eager Konopka tootoo/petrell would that not allow for some rowdy hockey if time called for it? I dont think Macintyre made anybody afraid accept for the other teams tough guy..IMO

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#56 Brownlee loves the word meow
June 26 2012, 11:52AM
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Meow What kind of guy was everyone expecting Eager to be?

His stats last year were on par with the rest of his seasons in the NHL...I dont think we got much less or more. I doubt management was surprised as undoubtedly they did their research before signing him. He was def more aggressive when he was breaking into the league as that was his entire role, but was also more of a loose cannon which it sounded like people were trying to reign in. assumable that they wanted him to play a bit smarter hockey.

2011-2012 (Oilers) He had 5 fights in 63 games. 13 points.

2010-2011 (Sharks/Thrashers) 6 fights in 68 games. 17 points.

2009-2010 (Blackhawks) 8 fights in 60 games. 16 points.

2008-2009 (Blackhawks) 13 fights in 75 games. 15 points.

2007-2008 (Flyers/Blackhawks) 7 fights in 32 games. 2 points.

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#59 vetinari
June 26 2012, 12:04PM
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@ Robin - I can't give you enough props on the completely infuriating, "meow" crap.

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#60 Copperblueandwhite
June 26 2012, 12:05PM
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Tootoo too crazy maybe....how about Gaustad, One punch Asham, Garrison or Wideman or Hamonic with Suter...BAM Stanley Cup!

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#61 moosewacker
June 26 2012, 12:06PM
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Was Jason Bonsignore 64 ? Stay away from that omen of Oiler's past, hope that is just a training camp #.

Oh and skin that cat !

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#62 Romulus' Apotheosis
June 26 2012, 12:15PM
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@Robin Brownlee

"The Oilers had that guy in Steve MacIntyre but, nooooooooooo, he had to go because he wasn't a good enough player, he was just a "knuckle-dragger.""

This Steve MacIntyre?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hImezA0nbDU

Too bad we don't have him, right?

Seriously though... it's a new era. MacIntyre belongs in a ring not a rink. I get the demand for size, grit, etc. but this is not the way to get it.

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#63 Romulus' Apotheosis
June 26 2012, 12:19PM
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Eager gets a half-pass for the concussion at the beginning of the season that seemed to really set his game off.

But, for me it's not fights I'd be looking for from him. It's assertiveness with and without the puck and throwing hits.

He disappeared on the ice most of the time for a big guy with speed and some hands. When you're that size and you're not scoring you have to lean of the other team with size and speed and too often he didn't do it.

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#65 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 26 2012, 12:46PM
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The eyes of a killer are upon us. Exciting times i tell ya.

Been a tough week for Oiler fans, be soothing to see a sucks to be him moment.

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#66 GVBlackhawk
June 26 2012, 01:06PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

"This team, more than anything needs shotgun help, put some extra padding in that helmet Yak, you're going to need it."

I agree, but whenever this issue comes up we get a lot of blah-blah-blah about wasting a roster spot on "knuckle-draggers" and "goons" because people want the best of both words -- a beat cop who'll protect the kids and who can play more than three minutes. I get that, and it's the ideal situation, but you can't just snap your fingers and find that easily.

Ben Eager? No. Who did he scare off last season? Darcy Hordichuk? At least he knows his role. I'd be for getting somebody who makes cheapshot guys on other teams sh!t themselves just with one glare -- and who can back it up by beating somebody senseless every now and then just to reinforce the message.

The Oilers had that guy in Steve MacIntyre but, nooooooooooo, he had to go because he wasn't a good enough player, he was just a "knuckle-dragger."

Darcy Hordichuk's role was accepting punches to the face and he did it well. Not a deterrent, though.

Big Mac was a great fighter. Problem is nobody wanted to fight him. He was not a deterrent at all. He had the best seat on the bench to watch the young guys get drilled. He did nothing for the Penguins this year. Crosby had to fight Giroux in the playoffs -- do you think Giroux would have fought MacIntyre?

All these guys do is have a planned fight with the other team's enforcer, then ride the pine for the rest of the game. How is that helping protect the young guys?

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#67 Romulus' Apotheosis
June 26 2012, 01:12PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

Darcy Hordichuk's role was accepting punches to the face and he did it well. Not a deterrent, though.

Big Mac was a great fighter. Problem is nobody wanted to fight him. He was not a deterrent at all. He had the best seat on the bench to watch the young guys get drilled. He did nothing for the Penguins this year. Crosby had to fight Giroux in the playoffs -- do you think Giroux would have fought MacIntyre?

All these guys do is have a planned fight with the other team's enforcer, then ride the pine for the rest of the game. How is that helping protect the young guys?

exactly! well said.

those planned tilts are always boring anyway... fights in hockey need drama like every other human situation. you need to build conflict and then unleash it.

If you are just doing it because you are worried the fans are dozing... this isn't the way to solve that problem.

Lucic, Benn... those guys are the model. Obviously they don't grow on trees. But you need something closer to that than you do closer to MacIntyre.

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#68 DSF
June 26 2012, 01:35PM
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T-Roy wrote:

Didn't some punk named Daigle say that as well... Number 2 that year was some kid named Pronger...

Exactly my point.

The NHL has a way of humbling the cocky.

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#69 saddleblazer
June 26 2012, 01:51PM
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Robin Brownlee is my hero

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#70 Romulus' Apotheosis
June 26 2012, 02:00PM
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@DSF

And T-Roy...

I think you are missing the point.

The fan-fair over the number 1 pick is an event people remember. They remember the event and associate it with the person picked regardless of whether they turn out.

THink of olympic sports, no one remembers the Silver:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xK9rbwM3omA

It is the same with lots of things. Everyone remembers Neil Armstrong.

No one remembers also-ran candidates for office.

If you go on to win in an election years later... no one remembers the one you lost.

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#71 gret99zky
June 26 2012, 02:06PM
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Pretty sure Tambi won a cup with the Islanders in 1980.

Horcoff will mentor Yak on how to lose graciously and what to say in the presser after a loss.

"We tried really hard but the bounces didn't go our way. It's no one's fault. Just the way it goes. Could have gone either way."

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#72 Bucknuck
June 26 2012, 02:32PM
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@gret99zky

Hey all you Horcoff Haters?

Do you remember in 2006 when he went down to block a slapshot with his face? He and Hemsky have had a rough ride, but they almost got it done in 2006 and I hope they get another shot... and I hope Horcoff scores a winning goal in double OT on a pretty feed from Hemsky and all you guys have to shut the F up.

For now I am just excited that my heart and my brain both think this team MIGHT make the playoffs (if they hardly ever play Khabby).

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#73 mlcselli
June 26 2012, 02:47PM
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Thanks Robin for drowning that GD cat

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#74 Lochenzo
June 26 2012, 02:57PM
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Watched a lot of interviews of him and I've grown to admire this kid. Cocky, yes, but I don't think it would be cocky-destructive in terms of the lockerroom. I could see PK Subban being a polarizing figure, but I don't get that impression with Yakupov.

Yakupov's cockiness and ability to have fun will keep the team loose and would be a great source of quotes for the media.

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#75 Oilcruzer
June 26 2012, 03:09PM
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Thanks RB.

Back to topic. Federov was cocky when he came in too. He learned and became a hall of famer

I see the same swagger.

FYI Was in Italy in a bar for the England game. Now in Germany for a week.... Hoping for two more games with the local fans here.

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#76 A-Mc
June 26 2012, 04:19PM
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@Bucknuck

I will also go into next season with the hopes of making the playoffs. And i will feel better about the decision if we manage to add 2 'new' faces to the Defensive lineup. If that means 1 UFA and Fedun, then so be it! (I would love to see Klefbom make the team and decide to skip out on 1 more year in the SEL, but that sounds unlikely).

UFA-hires + Handing #1 over to Dubnyk will go a long way to making the playoffs this next year!

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#77 Wax Man Riley
June 26 2012, 04:21PM
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Brownlee loves the word meow wrote:

Meow remember when Wade Redden got 50 points in 65 games in 2006?

Please see post #57 or #64.

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#78 Gret99zky
June 26 2012, 04:45PM
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@Bucknuck

That was over six years ago. We haven't made the playoffs since.

Horcoff is the poster boy for whiffing, mailing it in, and collecting paychecks. The other vets are not far behind.

I wouldn't hold my breath on that OT goal if I were you.

Is there a more ineffective captain in the NHL than Horcoff?

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#79 DieHard
June 26 2012, 05:36PM
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Thank you Mr. Brownlee.

Meow was irritating the hell out of me. I started to skip his comments. Without it, I will read him.

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#80 DieHard
June 26 2012, 05:41PM
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Gret99zky wrote:

@Bucknuck

That was over six years ago. We haven't made the playoffs since.

Horcoff is the poster boy for whiffing, mailing it in, and collecting paychecks. The other vets are not far behind.

I wouldn't hold my breath on that OT goal if I were you.

Is there a more ineffective captain in the NHL than Horcoff?

I believe Horcoff will give up his C this year and will play quite well on the 3rd line. He will take on the toughs and help the team win. He won't play PP as we have lots of better options.

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#81 Butters
June 26 2012, 06:52PM
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In Edmonton Yakupov will be a rock star. He wants to be a rock star. Perfect fit.

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#82 pelhem grenville
June 26 2012, 08:23PM
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Butters wrote:

In Edmonton Yakupov will be a rock star. He wants to be a rock star. Perfect fit.

ovechkin 2.0?

gawd help us!

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#83 Butters
June 26 2012, 08:39PM
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@Pelhem I meant in a good way. Enjoys his celebrity, has fun with the fans.

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#85 Butters
June 26 2012, 08:56PM
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Practice jerseys will be modelled after his Tommy Bahamas gear at the airport.

Do the collars on the pratice jersey come with the collars already up?

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#86 Dog Train
June 26 2012, 11:10PM
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This guys is a breath of fresh air. This guy is just saying what the 'cliche machine' Canadian hockey players are thinking. He has the skill and the will to back up his talk. Good addition one the ice as well as in the room methinks. Think big, play big. I love it.

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