Igor Larionov discusses Yakupov trade request

Larionov

One benefit of sitting around during an eight hour flight delay is it allows me to share the interview I had with Nail Yakupov’s agent, Igor Larionov.

I noted a few people suggesting Larionov was the bad guy and was giving Yakupov bad advice. Never forget the agent works for the player. An agent can be used as a shield (a wise move in some cases), or to speak on behalf of the player, but the player is always 100% aware of what his agent is saying publicly when it comes to trade demands.

Larionov shared his views on the Yakupov trade request and where they go from here.

Gregor: A trade was
asked for near the deadline, which is totally fine, but then why have it come
out in a Russian paper today, why not wait and tell people when the season is
over?

Larionov: Well, you know what, it’s a good question. It’s a
little bit different culture of media and the player is based in North America
and the Russian reporter was making his trip to talk to a few players in North
America like [Pavel] Datsyuk and [Valeri] Nichushkin, and [Nail] Yakupov, and
Nikolai Goldobin.

He talked about the current situation, what’s happening with Nail and reviewing
the last four years, and then (brought) up the trade rumours, what happened
before the deadline. And now the player (Yakupov) thought that nobody was going
to be moved and [the reporter] asked him questions about what we know, what
happened, and asked him to review the last four years in Edmonton. And that’s
what came out in the article.

So it’s not all about demanding a trade. It’s not the same
as Jonathan Drouin from Tampa Bay was doing. We kept it quiet, we were trying
to see how we can help Nail to get it going or we can have an opportunity to
talk to other teams, and we can see if anybody would have a chance to make a
trade. So that’s what it’s all about.

It is important to note this is more about four years, than just this season. Yakupov feels it isn’t working, and would welcome a change. It is hard to disagree with him. Larionov was very complimentary of Chiarelli and I got the impression there was no ill-will between Yakupov’s camp and Chiarelli.

Gregor: You have a good
understanding of the game. What do you feel didn’t go right for Nail in Edmonton?
And when he goes to his new team what are some things he will need to do better
in order to have success?

Larionov: Well you’re always going to give advice to players
to be honest to the game of hockey. Honesty goes to his routine, his
preparation, his commitment, a lot of different things you advise and things
are going to fall into place.

But you go to Edmonton and the last four years with five coaches, you try to
tell Nail, ‘Be patient, the new coach is going to come in and new this and new
that,’ and it’s very confusing for a young player. When you have a new player
at that age, eighteen or nineteen or twenty, you want to have some veteran who
is going to guide the young player to the right direction. That’s what he was
lacking in those four years.

That was what I actually tried to [do] because I have that experience myself in
Vancouver when Pavel Bure came and he was actually struggling a little bit at
the beginning until Pat Quinn put him on my line and I took care of him and
then he taok off. Same thing with Datsyuk in Detroit when he came over in 2001.
So that’s what I was looking to tell Nail. Obviously the kid is very proud, so
he was trying to get treated fairly. He loves the city, he loves the fans, he
likes the team but he wants to be more productive and to be more utilized. He
was lacking that in Edmonton.

Larionov is accurate in saying the young forwards haven’t had much veteran leadership, but they did have Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth. Both of their careers were built on hard work. None of us can argue the young forwards might have benefited from some more veterans, but the veterans have told me the young guys didn’t always listen to what was said. It has to be a two-way street.

Gregor: Igor, you
were given permission to talk to some other teams and I was told there was some
clear interest and a deal was possibly close. How close was there to being an
actual deal from your understanding?

Larionov: Well, I had a talk with [Peter] Chiarelli before
the deadline so we talked about it and kept it private. There was no need to
make any noise, so I asked for that permission and he gave me that permission. I
talked to a couple of teams, and I’m not going to name them. It was good
interest from three different teams. At the end of the day Edmonton decides who
they are going to get in return. So there has got to be value for Nail and I
was just asking carefully so I could take a look and give them a chance, maybe
give them some fresh air to play. It’s not like I asked them to just give, for
the last fifteen games of the season, sixteen minutes of ice time to showcase
him in case you want to move him in the summer time.

A source told me the Ducks were interested and a trade involving Yakupov and Benoit Pouliot was being discussed, but Pouliot’s injury halted those discussions.

Gregor: How hard is it going to be, regardless of where he
goes and maybe even for any other player coming into the game who’s really been
training to be an offensive player to learn how to be a defensive player in the
toughest league in the world?

Larionov: In today’s game you have got to have three lines
that can do damage offensively. So there’s no doubt in my mind [that] Edmonton
has that opportunity. They have three really talented young players, [Connor]
McDavid, [Ryan] Nugent-Hopkins and [Leon] Draisaitl. So that’s three centers
that you can build around. So three lines, you can have opportunity to play
fifteen, sixteen minutes and score twenty five, thirty goals. Some teams you
can watch the games, and like you said, it’s a lot of defence, a lot of
conservative hockey. It’s not very good for the game and the fans around the
league but there’s nothing I can do to change that.

Nail’s game is based on speed and also the physicality
because he likes to go to tough areas, and not to hit people, but I guess to be
present. But he’s got to be playing consistently and to be in the game, not to
be playing two minutes of the first period and maybe three minutes in the
second period and maybe like six minutes in the last period. It’s really hard
to showcase yourself when you’ve been sitting cold on the bench and watching
other players play.

Larionov mentioned showcasing yourself a few times in the interview, which leads me to believe they hope that can occur. You never say never, as far as Yakupov returning next season, but I’d be shocked if he isn’t traded. I think both sides are looking for a fresh start.

 

 

Gregor: How do you find
the balance, as an agent now or when you were a player, to know when the coach
thinks, ‘you have to earn your ice time,’ instead of ‘we have to give you your
ice time’?

Larionov: Well, it’s very complicated, I can tell you
that. It’s a big challenge. You’ve got to have, for example I can go back to
Detroit, you have to have some patience, you have to have some trust in the
players. You’ve got to give them a chance to make some mistakes, but you know
that through mistakes they are going to learn a lot of good things and they are
going to be very good down the road.

I understand Edmonton has too many young
guys and not so many veterans that have gone through success. It needs balance,
I would put it that way. When you don’t have role players who can be leading
the way and surround those young players, it’s going to take time. It’s taken a
while now for them to be moved to the right direction, but I hope that this
team is going to be good for many years. I’ve been saying that for quite a few
years and I hope that Nail is going to be a part of that success too.

Gregor: Do you expect
a trade to occur this summer?

Larionov: You know what, we’re not going to demand ‘trade me
or I’m not coming back’ — it’s not to that stage. We obviously are civilized
people and it’s about trying to find a solution. We are talking about a young
player’s career and obviously there are many interests for the Edmonton Oilers in what they want to do. So, if Nail goes back in the last four games and scores
five or six goals and he’d been happy there…

As I’ve said before in the previous interviews, he’s been
coming to Edmonton in the middle of July to train, to do some community work in
Edmonton with the fans, with the children who play hockey in the city. He likes
the city, he wants to be there, but I think he wants to be more utilized and he
wants to be successful with that team. There’s no way he is, like I said, there
is no turning point, ‘No I’m not going to go back.’ It’s kind of like for him
right now to be recognized and appreciated, that’s all it’s about.

I respect Larionov’s willingness to want to be positive, and Yak did score six goals in his final three games of his rookie season, so it is possible, but I don’t buy that four or five games can change Yakupov’s view on his time in Edmonton, nor do I think it would drastically alter how the Oilers feel.

Gregor:  Moving forward, do you think it would be
better for Nail if they facilitated a trade and have him play elsewhere next
year?

Larionov: Well it’s never bad. You take the time in the
summer and you think about your players that you want to move forward with for
the new season. So I guess maybe a fresh start and fresh air would be good for
Nail to go to a different team and that’s obviously an option. But once again
Nail Yakupov is an Oiler and he belongs to Edmonton and they have to make a
decision and hopefully in the summer time once everything calms down, a
decision will be made and [it will be] good for everybody.

Gregor: Did you
update Nail every couple of days about what was going on? In a situation like
this, how often do you have to talk to your player to let him know exactly
what’s going on?

Larionov: Well they like to hear that more. When I played
myself I didn’t have those kind of situations like that, only twice I had been
traded. Once it took me two weeks from San Jose to Detroit and then another one
was from Florida back to Detroit. The players nowadays, they would like to be
updated often, whereas when I played I would talk to my agent maybe three or
four times a year, that’s it.

So now sometimes I talk like three four times a day, every day, or every other
day. So a situation like this where a player is eager to play comfortably, to
play consistently and a certain amount of minutes he wants to play he wants to
know what’s going on. They ask has anyone shown some interest in me, and is
anything going to happen. It’s another world for the players now. It’s
different times.

Players want to be informed on everything nowadays. Agents communicate much more frequently than they did in the past. Yakupov was aware of the situation the entire time, as he should be considering it is his career.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • mithaman

    Yak is a bust. Yes the organization needs to take some flack for how they developed him, but ultimately the player is accountable. He’s the worst fist overall pick since Patrick Stephan.

    I hope he can turn it around with another franchise, and I hope we get a player in return who can do the same.

    I”ve seen so many posts blaming Eakins and MacT for everything. Believe me, I’ll take any chance I get to criticize those two, but this Oilers team under TMac is only on pace to exceed last years point totals by 10. That’s a marginal difference. TMac also had the luxury to ice a line-up with a more seasoned Draisaitl and #97, arguably the best players in the world.

    Time to shake things up. Looking forward to what PC has planned.

  • Rob...

    The big question is: would this season have gone differently had Yak, Nuge, McDavid, Pouliot, Klefbom, Davidson & Eberle not been injured for sizeable chunks of the season? You bet your arse it would have been different. The hockey gods can go suck eggs!

      • Rob...

        You’d think that would be a prime time to look at your 6 million dollar 18m per nightplayers, not your 2.5 million dollar 14 minute per night players and the decisions on who centers the bottom two lines.

    • McRaj

      If by different you mean instead of 30th they would be 20th then yes you are correct. If by different you mean they are a playoff team? Then perhaps you have been sharing drinks with MacT and Lowe.

      • Rob...

        If they made it through the year without missing any player for more than 2-6 games, I could have seen 18th to 20th spot in the league. I think that in the new NHL there are too many teams with GM’s embracing the tank. For that reason alone I think my estimate isn’t far off.

        • McRaj

          So Basically if the Oilers were the luckiest team in the league this season (won’t look at past seasons) you think they would have finished with 88-90 points (about what the 18th to 20th place teams will finish) instead of the 71 they will finish with? I guess injuries cost them 20 points *Eye Roll*

          Well if that’s the case then let’s keep the roster in-tact, another year of experience and another top 3 pick should definitely allow us to make play-off next season.

  • That's My Point

    @ mithaman

    From the 2012 draft:
    Galchenyuk: 154 points, Forsberg: 125 points, Yakupov: 108 points, Hertl: 100 points
    Can’t see why anyone would say Yakupov is a bust. Is Hertl a bust because he has less points? How about Teravainen or Gostisbehere? They also have less points. Maybe these players should be traded for 3rd round picks or other teams problems also.
    Yak is not the problem.
    The Oilers are lacking the #1 and #2 defencemen who can get the puck out of their zone to the forwards that is the Oilers problem.

    • mithaman

      I agree it’s a weak draft, but he’s never scored more than 33 points in a season and has not shown any indications that he can exceed that. He only has 7 goals this year and he was drafted as a pure goal scorer. If you don’t call that a bust then you’re the one who’s insane.

      Compared to every #1 pick in the past 10 years Yak is by far the worst and he’s already been passed by several players in his draft year and there’s more on their way.

      Do you even watch him play? He’s clueless out there. Has absolutely no hockey IQ. Hall, Nuge, McDavid, Eberle have all fared pretty offensively well without the #1 D, why are you giving Yak a pass.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      This comment is misleading…what you should have noted is that this year these other players have excelled.
      Galchenyuk 52 points, Forsberg 58 points, Gostibere 42 points while Yakupov has 20 points this year.
      That alone speaks volumes. His peers from that year are all out scoring him.they have developed while he has regressed.

  • cbk780

    Oiler Nation is obviously bitter about the situation, and they should be. But it boils down to a young player trying to harvest the maximum potential of his career. We love the game, but its a business. Regardless, I hope we don’t forget about Yak’s various contributions to the city outside of the rink.

    I for one will miss him!

  • ubermiguel

    I’m torn on this Yak situation; he’s had no consistent coaching, but at the same time he can’t score enough to crack the top 6 on the worst team in the NHL (ever….they are the worst team ever in the NHL).

    Larionov has a financial incentive for Yak to succeed, so of course he’s going to do and say everything he can to help change the situation.

    • RJ

      This was covered in a Hockey Writers article recently.

      Yak has to own some responsibility for failing to produce. But Eberle and Pouliot have also played with Letestu. Two proven top-6 forwards, and between the two they have one point.

      For whatever reason, no one wants to call out the fact that Letestu is a black hole centre.

  • Oil City Roller

    Igor outright says Yak should have been gifted prime ice time he didn’t earn. In the Russian interview Yak says he has absolutely no responsibility for what happened. Need we say anything other than good riddance.

    p.s. Larinov thinks we should run three scoring lines so that should tell you how bad an idea it is.

    • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

      Hmmmm.

      Yakupov was drafted first overall, would you not say that’s earned the right to be in the top six?

      He scored at a similar rate than Stamkos did in JR.

      Does that not suggest he should see top 6 minutes?

      When you single out Yakupov, I wonder why don’t you single out Hall – RNH and Eberle as being gifted top 6 minutes right off the bat.

      Russian to english is never accurate and if you’re basing your argument on that its weak.

      • Zarny

        No, being drafted 1st overall does not “earn the right” to be in the top 6. Being drafted earns you nothing.

        As for Hall, Nuge and Eberle all three performed better than Yakupov. They were better offensively, and while they weren’t good defensively they weren’t completely lost without the puck like Nail. Like it or not, Yakupov has never played as well as Hall, Nuge or Eberle.

        And in terms of entitlement, Yak’s draft position is the only thing that kept him from the AHL – if you really want to get into preferential treatment.

      • MorningOwl

        Yakupov was drafted first overall, would you not say that’s earned the right to be in the top six?

        hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

        this is the type of thinking that has rushed players to the NHL and bypassed development and mentor-ship. Are you K-Lowe or MacT?

    • Sorensenator

      I dunno, after a solid rookie season we change the coach and Nail was immediately put on the 3rd and 4th lines. I remember it was two seasons ago first game was against New Jersey, he was slotted on a line with pluggers right from the get go and was playing with Hall just a few short months earlier.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    —-
    Gregor: Moving forward, do you think it would be better for Nail if they facilitated a trade and have him play elsewhere next year?

    Larionov: Well it’s never bad. …
    —-

    I think Nail will benefit from a fresh start, but “it’s never bad” is too optimistic. Nail has not been a good fit here (few have!), but there’s always a risk that he goes somewhere that is even worse. Perhaps somewhere with a bad coach (Todd McLellan is a great, offensive coach). Perhaps somewhere he doesn’t enjoy living in. Perhaps to a team that doesn’t have as many up-and-coming centers as the Oilers do. Perhaps to a team that is even worse than the Oilers (hard to imagine!). Perhaps to Dallas Eakins’ basement.

    Being optimistic and gung-ho is obviously the right attitude, but there’s always a risk with the unknown.

  • CMG30

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call Yak a bust but I fully recognize that he hasn’t lived up to the promise of a 1st overall. It’s also been apparent for some time that he isn’t a good fit in Edmonton.

    Parting ways amicably is in the best interests of both the Oilers and Yak. Good to see that both sides seem to recognize this.

    It’s also nice to see that Yak and his agent seem to also realize that getting something of value back for Yak is in both the teams interest and in the players interests. Afterall, perception is reality and if a former top draft pick is flushed for a bag of pucks, that can impact his worth in the eyes of GM’s around the league which ultimately can impact future earning potential.

  • Boom or Bust

    It’s time for him to go…I thought maybe we could trade Eberle for a D-man and use Nail at 2 mil a year with Connor, but after hearing he wants out…well goodbye then. Honestly I’m sure it was rough on him with the different coaches and systems yadda yadda…but truly elite players roll with the punches and take their spots on the team!! I’m sure a fresh start will do him well and maybe we can get something in return.

  • TKB2677

    In my opinion, if your skill set is offense, you should be able to create some offense regardless of who you play with. There is no way an offensive player is going to produce anywhere close to the same points playing with 4th liners vs first liners but it shouldn’t be nothing. Put Hall, Eberle on that line, the offense isn’t going to be next to nothing like it is with Yak.

    I think the issue with Yak not being able to produce offense with less offensive players is less to do about those players and more to do with how hard Yak is to play with. His beloved Roy even said last year that Yak was really hard to play with because Roy had no clue what Yak was going to do or where he was going. So the fact that Yak “produces” when playing with top 6 players, I think has to do with those top 6 players being good enough that they can score despite what Yak is doing.

    So the less offensive guys who aren’t as skilled and can’t put pucks where a McDavid or a Hall or a Draisaitl can struggle to find Yak. If Yak had better hockey sense, played a more controlled game and going to the spots he is supposed too, he’d score more even with 3rd liners. When he’s on the 3rd line, he’s going up against another teams 3rd and 4th lines and their 3rd pairing Dmen. He is supposed to be better than all those players so he should be able to score something but he can’t.

    I hope I am totally wrong because I like Yak as a person and want him to succeed but I can totally see him getting traded, finishing the next year on his contract. Maybe getting signed to a 1 yr contract after that and then will be gone in 2 seasons.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Yak will be successful on another team.

    A proper functioning team will slot him in the Ovechkin position on the PP an he will end up scoring 30 goals.

    He will be a hit machine, and be defensively responsible. A big part of being responsible in your own end is having veteran competent defenseman.

    There are no facts to back up my predictions, other than the fact this is the Oilers.

    Yak City fans will grow more resentment for the team. We living in Yak City can see the potential, the effort, and the heart.

    I would rather have a player who tries too hard every shift than an Eberle who never back checks, only skates hard if there’s a scoring opportunity and is soft as butter.

    • TKB2677

      Why does the majority of media guys that follow hockey not see what you see in Yak? Not sure the Oiler media guys, all teams.

      Why do former players who cover hockey, some are even at ice level watching him not see what you see? I’m talking Craig Simpson. He played 634 NHL games before his back gave out. He scored 247 goals, 497 pts. Ferraro, 1258 games, 408 goals, 898 pts. Mike Johnson played 661 games, 129 goals, 275 pts. Everyone of these guys say he has big time problems and question is longevity in the league.

      Why do former players watching the games not see what you see?

      Why do rival scouts from other teams freely tell media guys like a Gregor that they don’t see what you see?

      McLellan, who’s got over 300 NHL wins doesn’t think this guy is a top 6 guy and can score. If he did, he wouldn’t have played him on the 3rd line 3/4 of the time he was healthy.

      The only people who think this guy is going to be an NHL scorer are a few Yak lovers. So if everyone wrong?

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        I think all media guys including MacKenzie ranked him as the #1 pick and pegged him for superstardom.

        These same media types raved about Yak after his rookie season when he lead the team in scoring as an 18 year old. Out scoring two older first overalls.

        Most of these media types also praised Yaks play with Roy and McDavid.

        The critics watch him play with Letestu, aka the black hole and pick on Yak. Most of them are anti Russian by nature.

        Oilers need size on the wings so Yak plays third line. Other teams who don’t will play him top six and on the first power play unit.

        Its not black and white like your making it seem.

  • fran huckzky

    I have said previously that it is time for Yak and the Oil to go their separate ways. I think what makes it so hard for some of us to say good bye is that Yak is such a likeable person. I hope he does well wherever he ends up,

  • Lofty

    Odds were pretty good that 1 out of 4 first overalls wouldn’t pan out. For the organization I think it’s par for the course.

    Get what you can and move on.

    I don’t think he’s an absolute bust considering his draft year but move on and look to improve… For both the player and the team.

  • Oliveoiler

    I may be wrong, but I vaguely remember an interview done with Yak a while back. He stated “I really liked playing with Derek Roy as he told me where to be and what to do on the ice.” Er, excuse my ignorance, but isn’t an NHL player supposed to know where he’s supposed to be and what he’s supposed to be doing during a game? By all accounts, Roy was a babysitter.

  • S cottV

    The whole Yak thing has been a distracting side show, pretty much from day 1 of season 2.

    Yeah – yeah – Larionov is a legend, but c’mon – we’ll let PC decide what we need and what we don’t.

    I don’t like his answer about releasing this trade thing before the end of the season.

    It’s disrespectful and I am pretty sure McLellan would be pissed, when he’s made a point of closing out the season in a focused goal oriented fashion – as a team and as individuals.

    I’m pretty sure that requesting a trade, wasn’t in the agreed upon goals after the deadline, for Yak or any other player.

    Major disruption to the process.

    He needs to go – the quicker the better.

    I cant believe the bleeding heart support that Yak still gets – particularly after this bs move.

  • justDOit

    It’s a shame that Nail doesn’t have someone close to him, who could help him learn the NHL game and help him play well away from the puck. Like a former great player who speaks the same language, and has played at elite levels all around the world.

    Shame.

  • Ty Guy

    If they would have allowed Yak to go to the AHL he would have been the first forward drafted #1 overall to not play in the NHL since Mike Modano…

    it just doesn’t happen with first overall guys..

  • Hockey Buddha

    Thanks for the article, Jason. It provides some nice insight and perspective into the Yak situation and settles a lot of the speculation that has come along with the trade request. It does seem fairly reasonable in light of Larionov’s comments. Personally, I’d like to see Yakupov stay and work out in Edmonton. The coaching merry-go-round itself would be a nightmare for a young player trying to find his way in the NHL. My guess is that Yak connected with Krueger and then had quite the opposite experience with Eakins, which soured him a little. It has to be a frustrating situation for a highly competitive kid like Yak.

    Yakupov has, at times, looked a little lost and confused. Larionov is right. New systems and different approaches under new coaches would do that to a young player. Larionov’s comments do seem fair and not at all out of line. McLellan does provide some bench boss stability, thankfully. Time to move this thing forward. I hope Yak stays on the bus, but I’m more understanding of his situation if he gets moved along. The Yak situation still looks perhaps salvageable in Edmonton. I hope he finds success playing alongside Hall and Drai; those are pretty good linemates. That could be a really successful line for many years.

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    I love Yak but at this point he’s a bargaining chip for an improved D core. I still don’t like how this played out publicly at the end of a season. It makes it easier to get past him though.

  • Moog's helmet

    Would Yak have more points if he’d just been allowed to play in the top 6 no matter what? Yes. Did Yak do enough to earn consistent top 6 minutes? No. He seems like a nice kid and I wish him the best but if it’s true that he accepted no blame for his current situation than he’s delusional.

  • Kevin McCartney

    I’m often perplexed at how little empathy there is for the guys we so obsess over. I have to think we’ve all had jobs as teenagers where the manager told us to do something we didn’t totally understand, we didn’t do as well as we would have liked and the result was being given a lot of menial tasks we never signed up for or wanted to do that slowly drained our enthusiasm. We tried hard, we had the right attitude, but sometimes you’re just 19 years old and your boss is incompetent and egotistical, right?

    Going back to the start of his career, Yak’s most common centres (by shared minutes played) have been Derek Roy (drummed out of the league) and Sam Gagner (unwanted by Tampa, Arizona and even Philly threatened a buy out). His most common defencemen? Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry and Andrew Ference. His most common fellow wingers are Teddy Purcell and Jordan Eberle! Who both play the same wing as Yakupov! Oh, except every second week he’s a LW.

    He’s played almost 3,000 minutes of even strength ice time and the most consistency he’s had is 900 minutes with Justin Schultz (who was among the worst Oilers of all time). A hydra of bad coaches and general managers, bad goalies, bad defencemen and awful line mates. He’s had more minutes in his career with Marc Arcobello than Taylor Hall and more with Mark Letestu than Connor McDavid. Of his 3,000 minutes, he’s played over 800 of them with one of Eric Belanger, Boyd Gordon, Mark Letestu or Marc Arcobello. That’s the 4th line for nearly 1/3 of his Oiler career.

    The skill is obvious. He can shoot and pass and skate like very few players in the league. His deficiencies are clear, too. But no one (not even McDavid or Gretzky or Crosby) can look good on the 4th line of the worst team in the league. Those are, by definition, the worst players in the entire NHL as his linemates. Add in Justin Schultz and Andrew Ference? It’s pathetic. No team has ever treated a high draft pick this poorly.

    For the record, he did take responsibility in that interview and does every day – he shows up and works his tail off while risking his health against hundreds of giant angry men. But I really, genuinely could not blame him if he said it was all the fault of the Oilers. Because – spoiler – it is. They put him in a hole and told him to dig up.

    Also for the record, he’s not Russian. And the fact that he’s been a great community guy and a top pick with promise (even if he didn’t live up to it) and no one will even acknowledge that he’s Tatar speaks volumes about the respect Edmonton has for him.

    As far as I’m concerned, Yakupov is the Saint of Edmonton who, through being the most earnest young man there could be, revealed to the city and the league what’s rotten with that organization. Playing with German League 2nd liners is not a development plan and the team – and that means its future, its assets and its prospects – is bigger than the individual coach that needs a fall guy too nice to stick up for himself.

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      I would add a little to what you say and that is that Yak seems to be difficult to coach. Every time he has been totally called out he blows it off to the media. This has been the case from day one IMO Sure he sort of takes responsibility but there is always a caveat. The two way game is just not happening because of that. I think the coach moving him down the roster was an attempt to motivate him which failed. This whole thing is indeed a mess. If I could sit down with Yak there is one thing I would say. “Son do not leave the ship for one more year. Connor McDavid is a rare player whom will transform this team along with the coach and GM. The corner has been turned. Even those players whom have been here long term and suffered the most (Hall Ebs Etc) can see that the trade deadline work of the GM has improved the team. This summer he will do more. You could well find yourself leaving just when it got dramatically better. I feel you will regret this decision.)

  • Oilerz4life

    Last time I checked it’s not about the name on the back of the jersey it’s the crest on the front. Not really interested in the drama surrounding Yak so long as Chiarelli is able to work a deal that benefits the Edmonton Oilers.

  • Kr55

    Larionov seems more interested than Yak is about Yak being traded. Larionov has been blaming coaching since 13/14 for Yak’s performance. He is right to some degree, Eakins was a complete joke. But he’s off base this year, injuries to our C’s is what hurt the quality of Yak’s linemates. Larionov should stop trying to convince Yak he’s still not getting a fair shake here and wait to see what happens when our C’s aren’t constantly getting picked off all year long.

  • Heschultzhescores

    How many times does Larionov mention the lack of veterans and leadership…wow, go figure. Everyone and their dog knows this, why didn’t this happen and why is it still not happening? Just to clarify, leadership should come from a veteran who’s actually led his team somewhere in the playoffs…preferably won a Stanley cup.

  • Danoilerfanincalgary

    Yak is only 22 he might turn the corner but lets forget that he was a 1st overall. I wish him well and hope he has a nice career elsewhere but we should all move on and stop worrying who’s fault it is that he didn’t develop to his full potential. Probably a little blame both ways between player and organization so lets hope our GM can wangle a decent return for him maybe a solid backup goalie or another big winger.