Nail Yakupov wants more icetime. He wants to help his teammates win. He also feels his head coach doesn’t trust him. Yakupov spoke with the media after practice today, and it was clear he was frustrated. As he should be. Losing stinks, and I’d hope every Oiler is frustrated.
Yakupov is usually very quiet and reserved with the media, but today he spoke with conviction and passion.
He was asked about his agent’s, Igor Larionov, comments about a possible trade.
"I know where he is coming from, we have to do something. I don’t see any trust towards me now. I’m playing lower and lower minutes, and I just want to help my team win every game. I haven’t had much chance to to that, and it pretty hard to watch the game from the bench when my teammates are fighting for puck and points, because I know I can do the same thing.
"I don’t want to say anything bad, but I just want to say that I want to be here. I love the city. I’d love to play with these players. We have a great staff and the atmosphere in games is great. I want to be part of the Oilers," said Yakupov.
When asked how he felt he’s played defensively he responded with this:
"I’ve played good. I’ve always played like that. I watch everyone play the same. I don’t think that question is for me, it is for the coach. I play good," Yakupov said.
When asked if he asked his agent to go public he responded with a smile, "I don’t know, that is a tough question. I can’t say anything now. Maybe we will see if something changes in a couple of days."
He was asked directly if he has asked for a trade.
"I wasn’t asking for a trade. I don’t want to say anything bad, but I heard something (trade rumour) in the summer, something at the start of the season and then two weeks ago, but we’ll see…who knows. I just want to play. I don’t want to play nine or five minutes. I think I can play more and I think I can help my teammates to get points. We need points.
"I’m 20 years old and I think this is a very important year for me learning to play hockey. Sometimes players who are sitting a lot when they are 19 or 20 years old they stop playing hockey. I just want to play. We will see if that ( lack of icetime) is going to be more and more, and if not we will have to figure out something," said Yakupov.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Yakupov is clearly frustrated. He wants to play more, and you can’t blame him for that. Was this the best way to go about it? Probably not, but he isn’t the first professional player to go public with his frustrations about a lack of playing time.
When Eakins spoke after Yakupov he wasn’t upset at all. He said he understood Yakupov’s frustration, but he said he has seen Yakupov working hard to improve his game. He also said that he won’t change how he coaches because Yakupov went public with his frustrations.
The most interesting thing to me was when Yakupov said he heard trade rumours in the summer. I can’t recall any rumours then, but maybe the Oilers were shopping him.
I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Igor Larionov meets with Craig MacTavish later this week.