As if the Edmonton Oilers on-ice struggles weren’t enough to send the media into a frenzied tirade, the comments from Nail Yakupov have only added to the circus type atmosphere that surrounds this club. Poor, underachieving play from most of the players on the roster and a record that is good enough for second last in the league, the Oilers have once again become the laughing stock of the NHL.
Now one of their supposedly core players steps out and publicly questions his ice-time and how’s he being utilized, prompted by his agent no less. It’s a public soap opera between Nail Yakupov and the Edmonton Oilers, or specifically head coach Dallas Eakins.
Was Yakupov out of line with his comments directed towards the coach in questioning his plan on how to use the 20-year old Russian sniper? His struggles have far out-weighed his positives on the ice and at this level it’s ultimately the coach’s decision on how to use his players.
Or was this a case of a frustrated hockey player who isn’t producing to the pace that he’s used to? Throw in the team’s inability to live up to expectations and everyone is clearly frustrated but Yakupov decided to speak up, or was coached by his agent to do so.
It’s not the first time a player has been unhappy in Edmonton. Mike Comrie, Chris Pronger and Jason Arnott are all former Oilers that come to mind who wanted out of the Alberta capital. While Yakupov did not outright ask for a trade, his agent Igor Larionov indicated that one would be welcomed if the Oilers have given up on him.
It will be interesting to see how his teammates respond to the second-year pro airing his dirty laundry, let alone what Craig MacTavish decided to do with Yakupov. He’s already been a healthy scratch twice this season and putting him in the press box for a third time might be enough to prompt the youngster to demand he be moved to another NHL club.
His comments further complicate the matter in Edmonton, given the team’s struggles and now the players are starting to whine about ice-time. Was he right to vent his frustrations to the media or should he have declined to comment on the situation and leave the war of words to his agent and Oilers management? You be the judge.