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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#2 Where's Your Towel
June 25 2012, 08:16PM
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From everything I've read, I don't think it's just a matter of Nail having confidence in his gifts. He has confidence in the way he prepares, the way he treats his body, and the way he studies.

There's a big difference between thinking your talent alone will take you somewhere and knowing it takes hard work and resolving to put it in.

I think Nail knows.

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#3 D
June 25 2012, 08:02PM
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I think the team will benefit from his swagger.

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#4 @NateInVegas
June 25 2012, 08:07PM
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Does Tommy Bahama have a winter collection?

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#5 tlong
June 25 2012, 08:40PM
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If I see one more rehearsed speach by the regulars "We played hard, we'll get our chances"I'm gonna puke. Thank god they got someone who's got some balls. I hope he gets benched after the first game for calling out the vets. Hall has it in him too, pull it out buddy. Awesome pick.

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#6 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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#7 mlcselli
June 26 2012, 02:47PM
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Thanks Robin for drowning that GD cat

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#8 Ken
June 25 2012, 08:07PM
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Way to Go Oilers!

Can't wait for the start of the season.

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#9 Quicksilver ballet
June 26 2012, 09:26AM
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Should be interesting to see how he reacts to all the losing. All the others appear to have accepted it to date, interested to see how Nail reacts. There could be some Holy Frigg moments during this coming season. This could go either way for the kids in that room, management may say under their breath, what the heck have we gotten ourselves into. One thing is certain, there's bound to be plenty more passion in that dressing room. Hopefully they can channel the friction towards the positive. Hope he hates losing more than the rest of his teammates combined.

Throw a friggin chair through that showcase Nail. Those trophies have been a crutch for this organization for the last 20 yrs. It's time to dwell on the now instead of the past. Bring it on Nail, that showcase can only remind everyone in that room how inadequate they are. Put the focus on the now, rather than the past.

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#11 DSF
June 25 2012, 08:04PM
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"Nobody remembers who was drafted second"

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#12 oilers2k12
June 25 2012, 08:41PM
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But we need defence! We need Centers with SIZE! bwwwhhhaaaa! Teams DO NOT win unless they have a 2nd line center who weighs at LEAST 200 lbs and stands EXACTLY 6 feet and TWO inches tall! OR TALLER! Bwwwhhhaaaa!

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#13 IfBruceLeeWasAnOiler
June 25 2012, 09:20PM
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of all the oilers first overall picks i see yakupov being the best (points wise)just simply because we'll be better next season. also is it to early to say yakupov for calder....maybe just a little

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#14 6 ring circus
June 25 2012, 10:04PM
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Is there any truth to the rumour making the rounds that Katz had to step in and tell management to draft Yakupov? and why does Tambellini walk around with such arrogance and smugness,he acts like he has won dozens of Stanly cups, yet he has never won one cup.IMO the sooner Katz gets rid of Tambellini, the better this organization will be.

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#15 TDSM31
June 25 2012, 10:33PM
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I thought the popped collar went out in like...2002.

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#16 book¡e
June 26 2012, 12:14AM
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6 ring circus wrote:

Is there any truth to the rumour making the rounds that Katz had to step in and tell management to draft Yakupov? and why does Tambellini walk around with such arrogance and smugness,he acts like he has won dozens of Stanly cups, yet he has never won one cup.IMO the sooner Katz gets rid of Tambellini, the better this organization will be.

Don't be silly, it was Katz' kid who made the decision to pick Yakupov.

Tambellini walks around with arrogance because he is an NHL GM and not some kid commenting on hockey from his mom's basement.

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#17 Walter Sobchak
June 26 2012, 01:03AM
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Jack Micheal-"You glad it's all over"

Yakupov-"It's not over, its just the beginning"

love it!

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#18 6 ring circus
June 26 2012, 09:04AM
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@ book¡e

I take it your the president of the Tambellini fan club.Just because Tambellini is an NHL Gm does not give him the right to be a d*ck head,must also be a prerequisite for the fan club presidents job to.

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#19 vetinari
June 26 2012, 09:56AM
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Nail hasn't won anything yet but he can have as much swagger, confidence or cockiness as he wants so long as he delivers on the ice and in the dressing room.

I would love to see him on a line with Hall because I have a feeling that they would literally swarm the opposition's net and not give a damn about any defencemen in their way. Exciting times ahead boys!

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#20 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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#21 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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#22 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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#23 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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#24 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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#25 saddleblazer
June 26 2012, 01:51PM
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Robin Brownlee is my hero

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#26 Pfeif
June 25 2012, 08:36PM
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Is that a purse he's wearing? ... or maybe it's a satchel?

The one man wolfpack has arrived in YEG!!

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#27 Pouzar99
June 25 2012, 09:13PM
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He has a sense of humour and the kind of confidence players need to succeed. Not the obnoxious arrogance of say, John Tortarella or to a lesser extent Jay Feaster. These two blowhards won a Cup by beating a hard-working but mediocre Flames team when obsessive and unpenalized clutching and grabbing had almost totally nullified skill. This is their claim to fame. You want a player who will assert himself. NGH, like Gretzky did, burns to win and will not be intimidated. It is not his style to be brash, and Eberle is similar. Hall and Yak are more prone to wear their hearts on their sleeves. Altogether a nice package. Nice piece again Robin. You are making a solid contribution. Keep it up.

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IF.....and that's a big if

93 = 99, 14 = 17, 4 = 11...

then does Nail = Tikkanen??

Both were/are yappy fast pests who can/could put up 35G/Yr

Am I wrong here?

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#29 Fresh Mess
June 25 2012, 09:37PM
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He's going to be trouble.

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#30 Reg Dunlop
June 25 2012, 09:47PM
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@Oiler G

Tikkinen? I see Yak as more of a Klima. After he gets benched for being such a defensive liability he will say he needs a longer stick to score from the bench

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#31 vetinari
June 25 2012, 09:54PM
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Nail strikes me as the type of player who gets into the faces of those he plays against when times are good and those he plays with when times are bad.

That said, I think that we need a little spark from inside the dressing room and if he can put up 25-30 goals a season while speaking his mind, all the more power to him.

Put a Nail in the coffin of the opposition, boys!

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#32 Johe
June 25 2012, 10:00PM
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Good article Robin. I feel exactly the same way. This team desperately needs some attitude, some edge. Yakupov hopefully will bring that, and stir up some healthy competition amongst the other young guys.

I'm surprised there's so little excitement surrounding this pick. I'm personally very excited to see this guy flying around in blue and orange silks, sniping goals. Heck, it'll be fun enough just watching him celebrate goals, whether his own or those of his teammates. Intensity is about to be added to this team, that's for sure. Gonna be a wild ride!

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#33 Giant Squid Overlord
June 25 2012, 10:04PM
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Pfeif wrote:

Is that a purse he's wearing? ... or maybe it's a satchel?

The one man wolfpack has arrived in YEG!!

Actually it's a murse, commonly worn by disc golfers, hippies, metrosexuals, and newly arrived Europeans. I guess we can include newly arrived Russians and Tatars to the definition.

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#34 Boourns99
June 25 2012, 10:10PM
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Great take RB. Keep up the good work.

And I wholeheartedly agree - this team needs an injection of swagger. With the compete level and fire you see in Hall and Yak, they will be daring other players to take a night off. Hall's been fighting that battle on his own the last two years - this may be the beginning of a real culture change on this team, not unlike Chicago when both Kane and Toews showed up. Now, if we could only find Keith and Seabrook...

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#35 Boourns99
June 25 2012, 10:13PM
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@Oilers G-that un-retired Haiku writing MotherF^%$er

Tik had skill, but not this kind of god given talent. I see him more like #9. In your face, but with miles of skill. Could stick handle in a phone booth.

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#36 T-Roy
June 25 2012, 10:16PM
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DSF wrote:

"Nobody remembers who was drafted second"

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

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#37 MyFavCurryzJari
June 25 2012, 10:22PM
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Tikanen?!? Klima?!?

A first overall pick?

The wacky "brain" trust is trying to piece together the Magnificent Seven (part deux). Yak is one of the 7, not a supporting player.

I say he's the new and improved version of crazy Glenn Anderson! ...to continue playing right wing, with Messier's kid moving from LW to centre.

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#38 DonDon
June 25 2012, 10:30PM
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Good article Brownlee. The Oilers have a new winner on their hands, welcome Nail Yakupov.

For the Oilers to compete, yes, the team needs a big, strong, skilled centre. Yes, they need a 1 or 2 D. And yes, they need to replace Khabibulin.

But the biggest problem with the current squad is the play and attitude of some of the veterans.

They have become passengers on this team, collecting their pay and seemingly putting in time until golf season. Disappointing! No wonder Hall gets pissed with losing.

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#39 jonny94
June 25 2012, 10:38PM
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What time is the development camp on Wednesday?

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#40 dougtheslug
June 25 2012, 10:53PM
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MyFavCurryzJari wrote:

Tikanen?!? Klima?!?

A first overall pick?

The wacky "brain" trust is trying to piece together the Magnificent Seven (part deux). Yak is one of the 7, not a supporting player.

I say he's the new and improved version of crazy Glenn Anderson! ...to continue playing right wing, with Messier's kid moving from LW to centre.

Beat me to it.

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#41 German80
June 25 2012, 11:33PM
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Is anyone following Nail Yakupov's Twitter account? nail10_1993? It's GOLD! He's such a kid! I love it!

Example: What kind of cookies did you get at Subway Nail?

Nail: White

What's gonna be your number in the NHL?

Nail: 10000000

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#42 chefer
June 25 2012, 11:34PM
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love his swagger!!! think he will #96 like bure did before he wore #10?

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#43 Muji
June 26 2012, 12:10AM
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Love the confidence. Love the swagger. He's like Linus Omark 2.0!
Uh oh.

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#44 thepeetso
June 26 2012, 12:20AM
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I just wonder how Horc is going to react when young Mr. Yakupov demands the #10.

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#45 Marshall Law
June 26 2012, 12:39AM
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@German80

While Nail is a great quote, there could be a downside to his apparent willingness to adopt the rock star persona.

For instance, somebody from the team needs to monitor this kid's *ahem* twitter activity. Judging from his eagerness to respond to all of his new fans (mostly female it seems), there's a chance that Nail might have a little bit of trouble focusing on hockey...

Let's keep our fingers crossed that he's able to adjust appropriately to all the attention.

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#46 Brownlee loves the word meow
June 26 2012, 12:48AM
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Meow you def hit the nail directly on the head RB!

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#47 Brownlee loves the word meow
June 26 2012, 01:07AM
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chefer wrote:

love his swagger!!! think he will #96 like bure did before he wore #10?

Meow beep beep beep... Back it up here... Bure wore #10 before 96. Bure arrived in north America sept 6 (9th month 6th day) and was able to become Canadian citizen in 1996, which is why he changed his number to 96.

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#48 Brownlee loves the word meow
June 26 2012, 01:13AM
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Meow horcoff should Be forced to give up his number 10.

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#49 The Soup Fascist
June 26 2012, 01:55AM
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I would like to officially secure domestic and international rights to the Nail Yakupov drinking game (patent pending).

Everytime Gene Principe uses a "clever" pun involving our new first overall's name OR Nail scores a goal, participants must:

A) do a shot of vodka followed by a chaser of tartar sauce - yummy! and B) send me $1 royalty. I expect to be retired by mid February.

BTW, in Vegas the over under for Geno's first "Hemmer and Nail" reference is 1.5 games (take the under).

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#50 pelhem grenville
June 26 2012, 07:05AM
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the hemmer and nail ref is when Nail plays goal no?

two righties don't make tartar sauce do they?

i worry... nail IS nuts isn't he? it's the ron hextall eyes that i worry about ...or is it that he has andy eyes ?

will he crash a net on his first shift? yup.

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