THE GENUINE ARTICLE

Lowetide
September 14 2013 08:46AM

Nail Yakupov is a splendid hockey player and an absolutely incredible quote. He's a flashy guy with a great deal of loyalty and continues to endear himself to Oilers Nation by saying exactly the right thing at the right time. The result is a growing bond between player and fanbase--I dare say that if the Yak Celly reaction happened today, critics would have been quiet that night (and that's not a bad thing). Nail Yakupov is larger than life, an emerging legend, and it's our good fortune to be along for the ride.

When we last left Mr. Yakupov, he was humbling NHL opposition nightly (fact: Nail Yakupov scored 11 April goals in 14 games during that month, effectively putting his stamp on the most impressive rookie season in the league without actually getting the award--something Oiler players must be used to by now) and having a grand time. The calendar year 2013 really did give us a wonderful view of the young Russian.

However, there's also a downside to the coverage Yakupov gets, and I can't help thinking it might be a bias or language/culture barrier. An example would be January 2, 2013 where Nail's being unavailable to the media started quite the snow storm from media and the phrase "prima donna" was attached to the young man by legendary writer Cam Cole.

Fast forward to now, and a brilliant piece by Joanne Ireland has Yak City passing on the opportunity to wear #10 out of respect for his first captain, Shawn Horcoff. I think we all--media, fans--sometimes jump to conclusions and that's human nature. However, in this case, I think we can probably put forward the possibility that "prima donna" was perhaps thrown out there a little too quickly.

MAKING A MOUNTAIN OUT OF A MOLE HILL

Not a big deal, and God knows you can browse through my back pages and find any and all missteps, but I think it should be mentioned that the European hockey player appears to get fewer breaks from the North American media on all kinds of things. The Staples article mentions a moment in time when this may have happened, the Celly against the Kings and reaction to it would certainly be another. Good grief that was an incredible moment, anyone in Rexall or watching at home would have done that celebration (and did! my cat is STILL on the ceiling!), and I do wonder if the reaction would have been as swift and negative from some circles if Nail Yakupov had been born and raised in Winnipeg.

THE (GENUINE) IRELAND ARTICLE

Joanne Ireland is a helluva writer, she really is. I've been reading her for decades, have met her exactly once, and yet if you add up the reasonable and the rational Ireland ranks at the top of local writers and interesting stories delivered. Her Yakupov piece did it again: with fewer than 750 words (attention bloggers like me) she conveyed a very touching conversation with a teenager from half a world away who has come to know the value of a long term captain and honors it in a unique and personal way.

Few articles have impressed me more than this one. An Edmonton writer finds a compelling story and writes it beautiflly, a Russian teenager's words showing respect and humility. I'm hopeful we can remember this article when Nail Yakupov or another Euro player does something that rattles the jewellry in the free seats.

Ireland's article is here, it is very much recommended to all.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#1 Reg Dunlop
September 14 2013, 10:06AM
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Lowetide, I dub thee King of hyperbole. 'An emerging legend'? Come on, after half a pro season?

Yak seems too good to be true, and maybe because oil fans are used to being dumped on by players under-performing or bolting for greener pastures, most are dying to believe. For me , the jury is out still. I remain unconvinced that he isn't a KGB agent studying our decadent mall or something.

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#2 tileguy
September 14 2013, 09:31AM
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I wonder if he will get more money than Hall?

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#3 RyanCoke
September 14 2013, 09:53AM
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I would have preferred he take number 10. Would been a great player attached to my favorite number. Now forever 10 will be associated with Horcoff... blah

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#4 DSF
September 14 2013, 07:10PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

I would have thought after post 35 DSF would have came by and said some ridiculously stupid comment about Yakupov already, and what player he thinks is so much better.

Slow day.

Yakupov is a very nice player.

His enthusiasm for the game is remarkable but his antics will eventually get him into trouble.

It's very common for Oilers fans to appear to be giddy school boys before the season starts but, at about the 20 game mark, reality will set in.

In answer to your supposition, there are many, many players better than Yakupov.

When he can take on tough opposition and knows where his own end of the ice is, get back to me.

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#5 Chilly Canadian
September 14 2013, 10:46AM
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RyanCoke wrote:

I would have preferred he take number 10. Would been a great player attached to my favorite number. Now forever 10 will be associated with Horcoff... blah

10 is forever attached to the great Pavel Bure, not Horcoff

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#6 Oiler Al
September 14 2013, 09:52AM
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Good thing he is not wearing #10. It would only be a reminder what a $6 million dollar player should look like.

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#7 nunyour
September 14 2013, 12:29PM
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A legendary sports writer,really,that sounds more prima donna to me than any nhl player could.

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#8 Walter Sobchak
September 14 2013, 05:56PM
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I would have thought after post 35 DSF would have came by and said some ridiculously stupid comment about Yakupov already, and what player he thinks is so much better.

Slow day.

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#9 Archaeologuy
September 14 2013, 09:40AM
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I dont like going over 750 words in a post because I get the impression most people wouldnt read past it.

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#10 **
September 14 2013, 11:01AM
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AS I read this article I had a vision of this group of Oilers doing great things together, winning at least 3 stanley cups, being the opposition's worst nightmare. When their time is winding down, they stay with the team rejecting more money, because they went through so much together, they want to ride into the sunset together. And then they retire in the same order they came into the NHL: one year Hall and Eberle, the next Nugent Hopkins, and finally Yakupov and Schultz. All proud to have started as Oilers, all grateful to have finished as Oilers.

There is a lifetime between now and then, so many questions, so much money, so much danger of injury. Nonetheless, one can dream.

Core four yankees fans say?. The oilers got their own fab 5.

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#11 Down with Dithers
September 14 2013, 08:55AM
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Well said, truer words have never been spoken. Yak possesses a unique and refreshing attitude. This team could use more of what he brings to the table. I look forward to seeing him grow up in an Oilers uni.

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#12 2004Z06
September 14 2013, 08:59AM
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I have been a fan since 1978 and have seen players come and go. How can you not cheer for this kid? The bit of criticism is unfair. Just as Omark was criticized for the spin-o-rama by Stamkos who then promptly went out 3 games later and did the same thing.

It is an international game now and foreign players should be viewed no differently than our own. The media builds these "mountains", not the fans.

Anything for a story nowadays. Be it warranted or not.

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#13 justthestatsman
September 14 2013, 09:07AM
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Loved the cat on the ceiling line. The hooting and hollering by my TV set when Yak scored might only have been matched by the Marchant OT winner in Game 7 and Pisani's shorty in 2006. Our cat was there for all three and still thinks I'm crazy.

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#14 Racki
September 14 2013, 09:40AM
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Was a great article. Yak always came off to me as a happy kid that just wants to fit in and be liked (loved?) by everyone. I am of Russian descent, so I always attach myself to the fellow Ruskies, but I've been pleased to see how much the fans here have adored him and stuck up for him.

I don't really recall people saying bad things about him like fans here can do about any other player. Hopefully it stays that way. Nail is on his way to a very exciting career. There is a lot of language barrier issues with many Europeans but you can see that he's a very humble, happy go lucky kid. Glad he'll continue being N64 too.

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#15 Butters
September 14 2013, 09:55AM
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It has been said by other posters here, but that moment in Oil Change, where he first steps on the ice, after asking permission, and stares wide-eyed at the Oiler banners is a big tell about this kid's character.

To borrow a Brownleeism; this kid gets it.

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#17 Geoff
September 14 2013, 10:21AM
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Lowetide wrote:

I stand by it. Yakupov's arrows are all going in a stunning direction and have cleared the space station. Incredible talent, he might MIGHT be better than Hall at the end of the line.

I think your right (( not like it matters but w/e lol )).

But to say he might be better then Hall and maybe the rest of the wonder kiddies is a little weird because to me since they all have qualities that make them great. Which is why the Oilers will probably kick ass for at least the next decade lol.

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#18 Muji
September 14 2013, 10:46AM
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@RyanCoke

Why the hate for Horcoff? He was a good soldier.

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#19 Old School G
September 14 2013, 11:28AM
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Respek

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#20 David S
September 14 2013, 11:34AM
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I'd love to read that Ireland article but I can't because... PAYWALL.

*Remember's Archeologuy's trick...goes to read article*

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#21 hunkybill
September 14 2013, 12:01PM
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Chilly Canadian wrote:

10 is forever attached to the great Pavel Bure, not Horcoff

I associate 10 with Esa Tikkanen when he was an Oiler. Sure could use a player like him now.

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#22 Butters
September 14 2013, 12:10PM
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I like this Yak City vid

ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b11Trufc7eA

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#23 Dog Train
September 14 2013, 01:14PM
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Genuine is the right word for it. It's refreshing to hear a player like Yak talk when most hockey interviews involve clichés and the same nonsense regardless of the questions that are being asked.

Why do we watch hockey? To be entertained. Yakupov brings excitement in spades. Keep on keeping on Nail!

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#24 RyanCoke
September 14 2013, 02:26PM
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Muji wrote:

Why the hate for Horcoff? He was a good soldier.

Not so much hate as a preference of player to my number. I would love for 10 to be associated with yakupov. Also 10 may be pavel bure's but he is not an oiler.

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#25 DieHard
September 14 2013, 07:48PM
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DSF wrote:

Yakupov is a very nice player.

His enthusiasm for the game is remarkable but his antics will eventually get him into trouble.

It's very common for Oilers fans to appear to be giddy school boys before the season starts but, at about the 20 game mark, reality will set in.

In answer to your supposition, there are many, many players better than Yakupov.

When he can take on tough opposition and knows where his own end of the ice is, get back to me.

Everything you wrote up till the word 'but' is true. Everything after is childish.

Good Grief.

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#26 Bushed
September 14 2013, 09:06AM
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Hindsight being 20-20, it looks to me like the real prima donnas were the self-entitled and self-annointed ones sitting in the pressbox.

Let's see who will be big enough to admit that their first impressions were wrong (or that their Euro-bias was on display a bit too quickly) and who will stubbornly continue to grind an axe.

Over to you, Matheson and company...

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#27 The Oilers Shot Clock
September 14 2013, 09:23AM
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I really hope kissing the logo after scoring becomes his thing. Its like he's thanking us every time he scores. I could watch that all day. He would make a 8hr shift at BurgerKing fun. Nothing wrong with that.

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#28 Smokey
September 14 2013, 09:26AM
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Language barrier and his exuberant personality been a bit of a problem for him. Some media types have put a label on him for a few things, and the criticism is really unwarranted. He's done and said more good things then the couple questionable activities. Everyone remembers his saluting the Oilers's logo, this guys proud, committed, and wants to be here. He's a good chap, leave Yak alone.

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#29 Kevin
September 14 2013, 09:35AM
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Nice shout out to Ireland. She gets dissed by too many too often, for obvious reasons.

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#30 The Oilers Shot Clock
September 14 2013, 09:36AM
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@tileguy

As long as his production compares, inflation alone says its a reasonable bet.

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#31 Geoff
September 14 2013, 10:01AM
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The great thing about Yakupov also is that he lead our team in goals in his rookie year when he spent 2/3 of the year on a grinder line and his off wing... I think he will be the sniper this team has always craved.

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#32 Milli
September 14 2013, 10:38AM
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I was at the home opener, not fun save for the free beer! That Thursday against LA, I was watching at home seeing a series of unfortunate events take place. And then Yakcity happened!!!! Set of a flurry of about 1000 texts of pure joy and excitement! I love this kid! His passion, his joy and excitement!

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#33 revingev
September 14 2013, 10:38AM
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Couldn't agree more lowetide. Nail is a special kid. Upon doing some simple math I did some comparisons. I compared PPG from CHL hockey, then compared 1st season PPG in the NHL and 2nd season in the NHL with a prediction of where I see him landing.

CHL Career PPG; Nail Yakupov 1.59 PPG Steven Stamkos 1.59 PPG John Tavares 1.75 PPG Taylor Hall 1.53 PPG Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.26 PPG

NHL 1st Season PPG: Nail Yakupov .65 PPG Steven Stamkos .58 PPG John Tavares .66 PPG Taylor Hall .65 PPG Ryan Nugent-Hopkins .84 PPG

NHL 2nd Season PPG: Steven Stamkos 1.16 PPG John Tavares .85 PPG Taylor Hall .87 PPG Ryan Nugent-Hopkins .60 PPG Nail Yakupov .80 PPG (My prediction)

Nail has a drive and determination that could very well take him over that next barrier very soon and very fast. He now has one benefit this year as well. Quality line mates with high end skill themselves. This kid has potential to easily be a PPG player but at the very least a good to go 30 goal scorer year in and year out.

As we all can see with our very own eyes. Yakupov draws your attention to him on the ice every time he crosses the boards and usually for good reasons. Just try not watching him on the ice is a challenge even for those who don't like him. He is a game changer

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#34 Geitus Maximus
September 14 2013, 11:05AM
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@Muji

Not sure people are hating on him but more disappointed on his lack of production for the size of his contract. Horcs was a good player, just not 5.5 million a year worth. I hope he does well on his next gig.

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#35 David S
September 14 2013, 11:40AM
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OK LT. Read the Ireland article. You NAILed it. Feel free to do another celly in your living room, because you sir have earned it.

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#36 Walter Sobchak
September 14 2013, 12:28PM
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Yakupov will be the best player the Oilers have had OUTSIDE of the 5 cups.......He's that good.

I stand by that, Eakins will teach him to be relentless with and without the puck.

He's no Ronnie Mac but the kids the real deal.

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#37 Ari Gold
September 14 2013, 12:41PM
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This kid is quickly becoming my favourite Oiler. He appears to play for merely the love of the game, and that's it. Of course he's paid, but I bet he'd be playing back home for fun even if it weren't his vocation.

Yak has the true mentality of a winner. I hope this rubs off on those around him. His passion and loyalty have me on the Yak Celly bandwagon.

Now please start feeding this kid raw meat and set him loose on those irritating Canucks. I want to see him destroy Kesler and then crush a slapshot clear through Lou's abdomen. His shot will soon be a registered weapon.

Yak City!!!

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#38 Rocket
September 14 2013, 02:25PM
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I look forward to YakCity lighting up these dark winter nights all season long. Just imagine what he could do with proper linemates.

Old drinking game: Everytime Gilbert turns the puck over.

New drinking game: Everytime Yak scores.

(Man I'm gonna be really hungover this winter, but for good reasons this time!)

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#39 FastOil
September 14 2013, 02:40PM
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What an interesting guy. He is such a character, a pure unfiltered person. The team hasn't had someone like this since Tikkanen.

I think this year we'll see just how much of a nightmare Hall and Yakupov are going to be play against.

I hope they play them on separate lines mostly. When one guy isn't kicking but the other will be.

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#40 @Oilanderp
September 14 2013, 03:37PM
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I heard they are recalling the Voyager-1 probe so they can put a picture of Yakupov on it.

#he'sthatgood

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#41 DieHard
September 14 2013, 05:23PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Yakupov will be the best player the Oilers have had OUTSIDE of the 5 cups.......He's that good.

I stand by that, Eakins will teach him to be relentless with and without the puck.

He's no Ronnie Mac but the kids the real deal.

This will be a future argument. Which of the 3 first overalls is/was the best. My opinion, it will be close but my pick is RNH. I just have that feeling.

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#42 jdrevenge
September 14 2013, 05:37PM
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"Good grief that was an incredible moment, anyone in Rexall or watching at home would have done that celebration (and did! my cat is STILL on the ceiling!)"

Best.

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#43 Walter Sobchak
September 14 2013, 06:06PM
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DieHard wrote:

This will be a future argument. Which of the 3 first overalls is/was the best. My opinion, it will be close but my pick is RNH. I just have that feeling.

Agreed with a cavet.

RNH is just a freaking joy to watch! He's so cerebral it's really remarkable.

RNH is my favorite, but a really close second is Yakupov. I just love his passion.

those two kids will be something to watch for the next decade, while I think RNH will be the better all round player, points wise it's Hall & Yakupov.

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#44 oilerman53
September 14 2013, 06:26PM
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This year Yak will have his wing back, he looked really discombobulated on that left side. Hes a shoot first player with an evil snapshot thats sniper accurate. Hemsky did what he was told and tried to make the best of it, Yak looked out of place trying to zip them from that side. The one that stands out in my mind is the one he scored vs Chicago. I believe they lost that game but the timing and accuracy and velocity on that shot was something to behold. Yak 64 with at leas lt 40 this year. Soundslike he has some preseason chemistry with Omark already.

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#45 mharco
September 14 2013, 06:55PM
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Yak City B*** Yak Yak City!!

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#46 csaw84
September 14 2013, 07:45PM
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I wasn't at the LA game, but I was at his first hat trick. It was INSANE!! His passion for the game and the fans is so refreshing. He doesn't yet seem to take it all for granted......he looks like he genuinely plays for the love of the game, (though I'm sure the pay helps his enthusiasm)

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#47 Oilerz4life
September 15 2013, 08:02AM
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Geoff wrote:

I think your right (( not like it matters but w/e lol )).

But to say he might be better then Hall and maybe the rest of the wonder kiddies is a little weird because to me since they all have qualities that make them great. Which is why the Oilers will probably kick ass for at least the next decade lol.

After seeing Yak at his first training camp practice, after his first shot on net, you could tell he was the real deal, an absolute sniper. You couldn't even see the puck, except for the twine bulge and Khabi standing there wondering where the puck went. I can still hear the crowd gasp and you got the feeling something special was emerging in E-town. The feeling you get watching retro Gretzky clips in blue and orange. The feeling you're not sitting in Rexall, but the Collesium, with Stanley Cup banners waving overhead. You can tell when you watch him play, he's not an emerging talent, he's the real deal. Signed, sealed and delivered.

P.S. I can send you the celly pics, it was pretty sweet :)

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#48 Oilerz4life
September 15 2013, 08:14AM
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^ or maybe it was Dooby, not sure, regardless, quite the moment, kind of thing that happens once and then its cemented in history, first time moment, pretty cool experience :D

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#49 The Soup Fascist
September 15 2013, 09:36AM
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Yes it is only half a season. But the kid is different. As Butters indicated a defining moment for me was the respect, humility and true love for the game Yak showed during a ten second clip on Oil Change. How can you not like this guy?

He is fanatical about practice, would appear to have a strong support system and is immensely talented. There are going to be struggles for sure as he learns the pro game and expectations grow. It is never a straight line to stardom. I just hope fans understand this and cut the kid some slack when there are hiccups.

I hope the grumps and frumps among us let this young man be himself. It could be a lot of fun

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#50 Tikkanese
September 16 2013, 12:21PM
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Chilly Canadian wrote:

10 is forever attached to the great Pavel Bure, not Horcoff

Or Guy Lafleur. Or countless others.

Or in Oiler Town it should be attached to my boy, Esa Tikkanen, not so much to Horcoff. Though Horc was a good soldier.

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