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.


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. 

  • DSF

    @Pouzar99 : ” think it is pretty obvious by this point that Eakins isn’t exactly a strategic genius. My cat could pick better line combinations and his defensive system design has been a series of busts. Putting Gagner at center for his first game back and matching him up against the red hot Kessel line was a very predictable shocker, just to name one example.”

    Yes ! We should have a permanent running thread on dubious coaching decisions.

        • 2004Z06

          The “moran”? How ironic. Name one player on the Oilers that has more playoff experience than Ference? Exactly! Three cup final appearances in his career and one cup won.

          He is the only player that has “earned it” Or were you expecting to give it to one of these overpaid, entitled, coach killer brats that throw tantrums, chirp the refs and haven’t earned a damn thing including their paycheck?

      • BleedOil4Life

        Regardless of whether or not we think Ference should have the C, the bottom line is he is the captain and its his job. So when captains have bad stretches of play they aren’t allowed to handle situations like this?? “Ok Joe, you had the best game last night so I guess you should say something to Yakupov”. WTF. Has nobody been a part of a hockey team on this forum?

  • D-Unit

    I understand Yaks frustration, but think his agent should have taken a different path. It’s the agents job to listen to his client and advise him. Don’t think Igor should have went to the media, even if Yak said it was okay. Yak is young and probably could have used some advice to keep it in house.

    Have to give Yak credit for talking to the media though. He was clear and spoke well in my opinion. If he didn’t talk, how many people would have been all over him for not wanting to talk.

  • oilbaron

    I haven’t read any comments so I apologize if this has already been said.
    I for one would give him what he wants and play the kid 25 minutes tomorrow night. We will see how he responds than. Throw him out in every zone start available. If we win great and if we lose, it don’t really matter anyway cause we suck anyhow.

    • BleedOil4Life

      Ok the funny thing about your comment is this

      robbie Schremp went to the islanders and did absolutely nothing
      everyone knew that he couldnt skate

      omark is trash no matter what….no other team wants him

      Magnus was traded to get a solid player back in perron.

      yakupov has just started

      so…get your head outta your ass

    • **

      So the oil screwed up on schemp! He could not crack the other 2 NHL teams he played for either! Jury is still out on omark and check paajarvi’s stats so far this season! The oil have screwed the hooch on lots of deals but not these ones!

    • pkam

      So the oil screwed up on schemp! He could not crack the other 2 NHL teams he played for either! Jury is still out on omark and check paajarvi’s stats so far this season! The oil have screwed the hooch on lots of deals but not these ones!

  • Rusty Patenaude

    The MacTavish/Lowe braintrust strikes again. It is Joffrey Lupul all over again. Don’t put a young offensive player in the situations he needs to learn and be successful. Demand that he be Bob Gainey and when he tries to be responsible defensively with mixed results sit him in the press box, shattering his confidence. In what alternate reality do MacTavish, Eakins and Lowe exist where they are in the thick of a playoff battle and have to cut back a young stars ice time for what? Why isn’t Yak on the 1st powerplay being set up for that lazer one-timer? Why isn’t he playing consistently with Nugent-Hopkins? Why isn’t Eakins talking to him in private regularly about what is expected and why he is being used as he is? Where the Hell are the “leaders” in the locker room who ought to be taking the kid out and giving him support/tough love all through this debacle.

    This is not on Yak. He is a passionate kid. he wears his heart on his sleeve, that is why we fell in love with the guy last season. This is on the coaching staff, management and the team leaders (if you can call it leadership when a team which names a guy captain before he even puts on the jersey)

    Jesus, it is like Punch Imlach screwing over Frank Mahovolich all over again…except even Punch learned his lesson and kept out of Gilbert Perreault’s head. Wish I could say the same for MacTavish et al.

  • camdog

    No matter who we drafted first over all in 2011, I feel the same things would be happening. It’s the organization that takes a draft pick and turns them into what they are. So Yakupov, Murray, Galchenyuk, whatever… It doesn’t MATTER!

    It’s the Oiler’s draft pick and they’re going to be messed up because we have idiot’s running the show at the top and this idiotic losing culture we have trickles down and effects everyone.

    That’s why when everyone leaves they “get better”. No they don’t get better, the get away from the Oilers culture, and then they prosper.

    I feel real sorry for guys like Hemsky and Gagner who have been here so long… Will Nuge be Gagner 4 years from now? Will Eberle be Hemsky? Will Gagner be Horcoff? Will Nurse be Pronger? It’s not the players, it’s the team. Heads need to roll from the top down for ANYTHING to move forward.

  • Randaman

    Embarrassing for the media covering Oilers that they gleefully grill a kid for nine minutes but haven’t got the guts to ask a single hard question to the most incompetent management group in hockey for the last half dozen years.

    • Word to the Bird

      You nailed it.

      The real issue is why is the entire team stagnating and lacking confidence. Who is responsible for this and how are they going to fix it.

      Heard Richaug rail on Nail on the Jason Gregor show today. Where was the venom towards the actual problem. Every damn fan knows the problem, and these lazy reporters are beaking off about a immature kid who’s confused as to why he is constantly benched when the rest of the kids are doing the same thing. The kid is 20, from a different country and culture. You gotta take everything he says with a grain of salt. Larionov caused this mess when he did not deal with it professionally and internally. Some Oiler’s braintrust then had a huge brainfart and allowed Nail to be made available to the media.Talk about complete set up and disaster. These cold hearted losers through him under the bus. You got a kid who with language barrier who historically has shown a propensity to say stuff that comes out wrong. What do you expect. What a complete lack of judgement by both MacT. Then certain media types jump on him because they rather rail on a kid then do some real reporting for fear of being ignored by the old boys gang. I’d like to see some real reporting. People want real questions to asked. I wanna see MacT pull a Tortorella or ol’ Sixrings make some disparaging remarks to the 2nd tier fans again.

      Lastly, Eakins should shut his piehole about accountability. He made a another comment about this imaginary accountability concept again today. If there was accountability Hall and Eberle, Schultz, and Gagner and Hemsky would ride some pine. Why the Russian kid? Why does he ride pine after he scores a goal or when make the same mistakes other guys make. No one discounts his minus 14. Eakins if you read this, don’t preach accountability, do it. Maybe you’ll get the respect of your team that you lost.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      THIS ^.
      even the ON writers don’t hold six rings accountable for this mess. Easier to bash a barely 20 year old kid from a different country that is just learning the language and is of a different religion. This is a sad day for the City of Edmonton.

      • BleedOil4Life

        who said anything about his religion??
        NO ONE!

        this kid was not forced to answer these questions…he gave the answers he wanted to give.
        he is pissed off and frustrated that we have 4 wins and he has not been given ice time.

        the problem is that he also said earlier this year he has played the game a certain way which is offence first and he doesnt wanna change that.

        he needs to realize to succeed in the nhl you need to play a two way game.

        he could have went to the coaches…which he didnt…he could have went to the management…which he didnt…he went to the media so he was asked questions.

        he needs to man up take the mins he is given and just play the game better.

        plain and simple

        and if he wants out after one year while guys like hall eberle hemsky rnh gagner smyth jones all want to see it through…then dont let the door hit you on the way out.

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        to be fair the first media guy who starts going after management the way we, the fans, want them to will be blackballed faster than feaster getting in line at a buffet.

        would you go to your place of work, walk into the bosses office and rip him for the job he is doing? knowing full well that your chances of keeping your job would be slim?

        the fans need to start backing up the tough talk with their wallets before anything changes. going after media for not asking tough questions, while valid, solves nothing.

        • Serious Gord

          I disagree completely.

          The media – save for a select few – are NOT employees of Daryl Katz. That they pussyfoot around the issues in order to curry favor/get access is a black mark against them.

          No doubt being a sports journo in a small market like EDM and calling it how one sees it can be risky – certainly Katz and co have the ability to put pressure on you and your employer. But that is no excuse to ditch ones ethics and mute ones critiques.

          Some journos have criticized ownership – especially of late: rishaug and brownlee to name two.

          An interesting thing happens when you are a journo who calls it as one sees it:

          You get read/listened too.

          And that is the path to success in that industry.

          In time perhaps we will look back on this and see it as a sort of maturation of the Edmonton sports media – the period in which they became independent and no longer a bunch of backwater lackeys.

          • Word to the Bird

            Rishaug is probably the only media man with the backing that wouldn’t get him in hot water with ownership. It’s nice to hear him calling out the ill advised decisions of Katz and Co.

          • Bloodsweatandoil

            Gord you talk tough on here, but yesterday you hung up on Gregor show and didn’t call back in. Scared to have someone debate your thoughts, or points that often are incorrect?

            Easy to say ask people to talk tough, but when you had the chance you hung up.

          • Serious Gord

            Thank you for this.

            I got cut off/the cell dropped out. I have no idea when it happened during my call as I have not had a chance to listen to the podcast.

            I thought I made excellent points throughout – but I may have been talking to a dead line for 30 seconds or more.

            I will call in again when I get the time – maybe today.

            Ps- thanks for listening!!

        • Loyal Oil

          Are you actually suggesting that Lowe gives Stauffer special buffet privileges? Wow, I’m shocked! I agree with your point but it make me sick that the media guys will rip apart this barely 20 year old kid who has fully embraced this city but won’t touch the ‘adults’ at the top who are responsible for this mess. It would be awesome I there was a courageous media voice that stepped out from the crowd.

        • 2004Z06

          I don’t think we will see fans not support the team. Team just has to turn it around for 3 games and people will go watch. I watched the game where the Oilers stopped their 16 game loosing streak in 2010 against Carolina. There was a full house there for that night and reminded me fans here are loyal and world class. There are only probably 6-8 teams in the NHL that could withstand continually loosing. I don’t think fans should stop going.

          I guess for me that’s why I wish our media would go after Lowe and MacT. When Spector went after ol’ Sixrings this spring it was awesome that a guy with clout finally stepped over the line and asked questions no one else would. These media guys read these blogs, know the general mood of the fans, but do they ever ask the Oilers coaches or GM’s the tough questions people want to hear. Hell, I would be going after Eakins for taking the donuts outta the media scrum, I’d make him pay.

  • Zarny

    I can understand why Yakupov might complain about his ice time. He is young, frustrated and wants to play.

    What I don’t understand is the public statement by Larionov. This is a man who has been around and should know how things work.

    He must know that that statement would make things worse for everyone involved and yet he still said it. He is paid for helping careers, not hurting them.


  • I support the notion of releasing the Omark. If we’re going to lose, (we will), we might as well find some kind of entertainment in the loss, right? Hemsky provided that years ago, maybe Omark can do the same. Let’s see what excitement he can bring.

  • Zarny

    Of course Yakupov wants more ice time. Every player wants more. Ryan Jones said the best thing about being sent down was more ice time.

    And Yak’s situation is on Yak.

    Not Eakins. Not Kevin Lowe. Not the guy selling hot dogs and beer.

    Statistical comparisons to Stamkos over 65 games etc are irrelevant.

    Yak wasn’t a healthy scratch because he played poorly. He was a healthy scratch because he played poorly and didn’t seem to care.

  • Zarny

    Tomorrow after the meeting, I hope Katz throws a grenade in the office and blows this pitiful excuse of a management team apart. It’s the office personnel that needs the GD rebuild.

  • Why the hell hadn’t Rishaug or any other MSM ask Eakins a simple question.

    If your sitting Yakupov and decreasing his ice time due to defensive laps’s why aren’t you doing that to Schultz, Hall, Eberle and the player who is the worst Gagner?

    Seriously, the MSM are told the same story but never question the coach or management.

    If the coach is the only one doing the talking then damn right Yakupov should stand up and take a bloody stand!

    MSM don’t seem to care that Eakins regurgitates the same sound bite on Yakupov.

    There just looking to get in, get out, write some junk about 5×5 or how this is part of the normal process now.

    Maybe Rishaug should ask Eakins, why wasn’t Gagner benched when he left not one but two guys alone in the slot that were directly resulted in goals?

    How under one coach Yakupov do well but under you ( Eakins) he seems to have lost all confidence?

    The biases extend to MSM as well. Unless MSM start asking the Oilers direct questions then your just another messenger for the Oilers, might as well play for them.

  • BleedOil4Life

    On a team without a pulse and with numerous players who are indifferent to winning and losing (Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, Hemsky, Gagner, Justin Schultz to name a few), Oiler fans should applaud Yak for actually caring. MacT really needs to listen hard on offers to pretty much anybody not named Hall, Yak or Darnell Nurse.

  • **

    If I have to watch that smug Eakins one more time, talk about how righteous he is, i’m going to fart in a baloon and release it at one of those media scrums to punish all you media pundits who don’t have the BALLS to ask direct questions. Are you so afraid of losing your media pass that you won’t ask a poingnant question? Spector asked one of Lowe at the MacT presser and got instant credibility, high time another one of you asked this moron if he is ever going to let his ego take a break and learn to coach like a professional.

  • WinterNightSky

    I’ll defend Eakins for his forwards on the PK. Who did you want him to use? Look at our roster and tell me who the penalty killers are.

    The old penalty killers were Horcoff, Jones, Belanger, Smyth, and occasionally Petrell and Lander. One was traded, two were sent down to start the season, one wasn’t re-signed, one was bought out instead of Ben Eager, and one has been injured for a fair portion of the season.

    We are playing our best penalty killers. Whose fault is that?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    EKLUND on hockeybuzz.com is comparing Yakupov to Alexandre Daigle.
    That guy Eklund has been very suspicious and totally wrong when he made predictions or claims to have sources in the NHL. Seems to me like he’s full of it. He is the prototypical unreliable hockey source himself.
    Yakupov is definitely not Daigle…
    Props if you think Eklund is a moron.

  • O.C.

    Instead of developing a competitive team we have gone from boys on the bus , to a continuing spiral of throwing the boys under the bus . Somehow that justifies coaching and management accountability and jobs ? Any one else gone public has been weeded out and same will more than likely happen sooner over later .

  • PlayDirty

    A couple things:
    1. This 20 year old is being guided through this by his agent who, IMO, is doing him a disservice by taking this public. This is on Larionov, not Yak.
    2. Do you think there was any way in helll he was going to be able to get out of the rink yesterday without having to face the gossip girls with their microphones?

    I yearn for the good ol’ days when you cheered for your team and were loyal to the players because they were part of that team. Now you have too many jock- sniffing media members trying to create stories and blow them all out proportion for blog hits. Unfortunately, there is a new generation of fans who know no different and are unable to read between the lines on the script of these soap operas.

    …and the pussification continues. As someone with a set of balls, I don’t give a sh!t how these players, coaches, and fans “feel” about things. Talk about wins, losses, goals and assists. It is a good thing to be frustrated and pissed off with losing. Let the animal instinct run its course. Why do we need hear about it?

    So why read the article? Try finding anything about the team where this situation isn’t front and centre.

  • Truth

    This sours me on Yak. You’re 20 years old, the worst plus minus in the league, and are clearly no better than two other players that play your position at this time. Be better than at least one of them in all areas of the ice and your ice time will go up. Whining to the media about it does not make you a better player. If I was Ference I would sit down with him and tell him how life works, maybe tell him it is a team decision that he sits the next game or two until he realizes it is a team sport and the coach decides how to utilize each player to give the team the best chance to win.

    On the other side of it, Eakins is clearly a hard ass and his style of coaching is not what Yakupov is used to. In the preseason I remember Eakins commenting on how he has to get to know each individual to get an idea on what makes each player tick. Obviously his approach with Yak is not working. Yak’s antics cannot do anything but worsen his relationship with his coach. I see Yak or Eakins gone prior to the start of next season, and I bet MacT doesn’t want to fire 2 coaches in one calender year.

    • Serious Gord

      Someone should do a dissection of the promises made by Eakins in that early presser comparing what he said with the results on the ice. I’m pretty sure it would be a damning indictment of him as a coach.

      And no doubt at the time of that presser it was Music to the ears of ON.

      And MacT.

      Perhaps he was sold on Eakins presentation – having never watched a single game of Eakins work in the AHL.

      There is a difference between Bold and rash.

      It seems to me that MacT has conflated the two.

    • camdog

      Another intersting stat is that Ryan Smyth has 3 even strength points and Yaks 2 to start the season, and Smyth has even less ice time.

      The reality is this team has lost games trying to give him minutes. He can’t play with Gags because Gags is too bad defensively, he can’t play with RNH because he can’t handle playing agiaint the other teams top d-man.

      This leaves the third line and third line minutes and if he can’t be happy with that there really isn’t a spot in the NHL for him, because on any team in the NHL right now he’s a 3rd liner, playing 3rd line minutes. He will improve dramatically playing against the other teams 3rd pairing d-man,second tier forwards and with spot powerplay action. Problems is I don’t think he is smart enough to realize this.

  • 2004Z06

    It’s not a sense of entitlement. It’s the fact that he is one of many that struggle defensively but the coach seems to only bench him.

    Was Yak caught standing still on a couple goals this year? You bet he was. However, I seem to remember TWO passes Hall made directly to the other team that lead to GWG. How many games was Hall benched for that?

    I remember Hemsky turning the puck over to Stamkos the other day… how many games was he benched for that?

    Messages are only being sent to players that appear to speak their mind. I have a feeling this locker room is more screwed up than in was in 2008-2009…

  • TKB2677

    What ever happened to EARNING your ice time? Is that not applicable anymore in the NHL according to Yakupov?

    He’s a league worst -14. He has 2 goals, 4 points in 17 games. He is an offensive player so when he isn’t scoring, he doesn’t do much else. I don’t think anyone expects Yakupov to compete for the Selke but he could at least not be a complete train wreck in his own zone.

    When the Yak booster club come out and bring up that Hall, Nuge, Eberle all are giving the puck and poor Yak is being singled out, I always laugh. They are right, those 3 need to be much better with the puck but here’s the kicker.
    Eberle – 15 pts
    Nuge – 13 pts
    Hall – 12 pts

    So what has he done to earn anymore ice time. If he was scoring you could cover your eyes a bite and let him make mistakes because he still scores. He’s not scoring. SO not only is he terrible defensively and from his comments thinks he’s doing a good job, he isn’t scoring at all to at least make up for his defensively lapses.