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 Romulus' Apotheosis
June 26 2012, 08:22AM
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I'm with Brownlee on this one... a healthy, repeat healthy, dose of swagger could do this team some good.

Who knows maybe seeing both Hall and Yakupov going balls to the wall will wake a guy like Eager up. Is it possible he throws more than 3 hits this year?

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#52 @Oilanderp
June 26 2012, 08:37AM
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Let's see if he can make the team before we follow him around shouting, 'Nail! Nail! Who are you wearing?'

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#53 Mitch
June 26 2012, 08:38AM
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Robin I love this pick, we could have taken Murray or one of the other dmen, there great young players as well. But you can't pass up that guy that is totally electrifying,dynamic,cocky and that adds to the 3 young elite forwards. It then increases the odds of having a Justin Schultz in the lineup.

It takes courage to pick Yak, we have been dying for 20+ yrs to see this team get back to the top. As fans we have suffured since Pronger left. Hell since Gretzky left.

This city deserves the best with the new arena it won't be to long and we will be the hockey capital of Western Canada for yrs to come.

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#54 EL PRESIDENTE
June 26 2012, 08:45AM
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I believe Nail is going to wear Number 64 at the development camp. 6+4=10 so I like it!

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#55 Romulus' Apotheosis
June 26 2012, 08:45AM
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@Mitch

"As fans we have suffured since Pronger left. Hell since Gretzky left."

hey now... watch it... don't trample on my childhood. I was 10 in 1990. That was my glorious year of Oil. I wasn't suffering!!

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#56 bdiddy18
June 26 2012, 08:57AM
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Even if this time around it wasn't unanimous to pick the YAK at 1. I like to think this time perhaps they did get a little influenced by the "masses" and go with the consensus.

Oil Country did have it right when they were shouting DOAN and the Oilers picked Kelly. So let's say this one is payback for that mistake.

Also add him to the mix of guys that want to WIN and it burns their ass to not win. That is desperately needed in a room that has witnessed so much losing and can quickly settle into a funk and say "here we go again".

less of the sulk and bitch the coach doesn't give me ice time like Omark and Eager

and more of Hall Ebs Nuge and Yak that just use every minute they get to create something!

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#57 Brownlee loves the word meow
June 26 2012, 10:05AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

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.

Meow if they caught that on camera, that would be an awesome Oil Change episode!! Yak loses it and throws a friggin chair through the showcase... by chair you mean Horcoff right?

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#58 Dodd
June 26 2012, 10:18AM
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6 ring circus wrote:

@ 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.

So far between the two of you, Tambellini (who you only know by his job) is a d*ck head and arrogant.

This crap disqualifies the rest of your comments - wise or not.

I can't comment on Tambo as a person - but if the Oil actually compete and succeed this year, everyone will change their tune.

I was positive that Dean Lombardi had no idea what he was doing in LA.

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#59 tileguy
June 26 2012, 10:46AM
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Well looks like the new batch of koolaid is brewed and has been served up. 15 games into the season the most used word here at ON will be "squeeeeee". Then, somebody will put a hellacious hit on Hemsky (6-12 weeks), knee on knee for Hallsie, RNH...elbow?

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

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#61 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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#62 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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#63 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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#64 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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#66 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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#67 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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#68 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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#69 Quicksilver ballet
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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#70 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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#71 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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#72 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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#73 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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#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 Wäx Män 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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