Nail Yakupov did and said all the right things leading up to the NHL Draft, then was (miraculously) chosen correctly by the Edmonton Oilers at #1 overall.

Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun wrote a story on the rookie yesterday titled Yakupov’s Excellent Adventure, which highlights Yakupov’s time at the Oilers’ prospect camp last week. It’s a good piece, but I winced at the opening lines:

Wow, that was awesome. But don’t do it again.

Here’s what happened: Nail Yakupov attended the Edmonton Oilers camp and kicked ass. He stole the show in every way. He sniped three times (including the shootout winner), and celebrated with pounds and pounds of personality. He cupped his ear to the crowd, he pulled arrows from his quiver and shot them, he even slid on the ice and paddled the canoe. And most impressively, he did it without coming off like a cocky asshole who’s dead serious. Dude was playing around in scrimmage mode.

Jones said it best:

And Yakupov, who after keeping his personality pretty much bottled up leading up to the draft and popping the cork the minute he arrived in Edmonton, couldn’t have been much more flamboyant than he was as the Oilers ended camp with a four-on-four game.

Popped the cork on the bottled up personality…I like that. (We’ve seen pieces of that flare on Twitter, too.)

But in the piece, there’s numerous mentions of fans who loved it and cheered, then left saying “Well, he better not do that anymore.”

Can we please not beat the fun out of this one?

I mean, Canada is the absolute worst for this. From Gretzky back in the day, to our heroes like Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews, I can’t help but think it should be mandatory that these guys huff some smelling salts before speaking. The process of neuturing PK Subban is in full effect too.

Alex Ovechkin is the prime example of a guy who once played the game with pure joy, and now often appears downtrodden, sullen, domesticated.

We did it!

So let’s let this buck run free for awhile and entertain us. Isn’t that the whole point of watching hockey – entertainment?

If the players take offense to his actions, let them handle it the way they did with Artem Anisimov. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the show.

I’ve seen one highlight package of the kid from prospects camp (I’d show you here, but TSN doesn’t let people embed their videos and see their ads and make them money — sorry, bitter), and I think I’m going to be a fan.

Comments (6)

  1. I agree, there’s no way that every player should be constantly beaten down and made into a personality-less, cliche-spouting machine, yet while the media seems to enjoy fun personalities, they draw far too much attention to how others perceive those types of players.

  2. Love those cellys – hope he doesn’t get muzzled because I could easily see him becoming one of my favorite players.

  3. It seems like the lack of color in personalities is a relatively recent phenomenon- hockey has always hushed up scandals and valorized characters who seemed simple and honest, but neither the average on-ice behavior nor the average media representation was as sanitized sixty years ago as it is today.

    Which makes me wonder if it isn’t the media itself that inspires the suppression. When players are under pressure for more and more camera time, when every quote and gesture is replayed a million times over and dissected by a dozen analysts, you can see how having a personality can become a giant endurance test. Sure, the media might love it, but it can often be an unkind, unforgiving, snarktacular kind of love, and I can see why few players want to be on the receiving end of it.

  4. The only time the media ever asks personality questions is with a negative perspective. The players are too afraid to speak about who they really are. Say what you will about baseball or football, but when you see/hear those guys they really look/sound like they’re having fun and that is what I want to see from sports. Hockey players instead of showing personality revert to cliched responses that are never interesting to listen to. Interviewing a hockey player after a game is like interviewing an accountant after he gets home from a bank.

    • “Say what you will about baseball or football, but when you see/hear those guys they really look/sound like they’re having fun and that is what I want to see from sports.”

      So very true. You can compare, say, the SF Giants to any NHL team, even the wildest of them, and they’re not just different sports. They’re from different planets. I love hockey. It’s the game of my heart. But I can’t see how it would ruin the game to let a little more personality shine through, even from the “good Canadian boys.”

  5. Let the kid run free. Personality is just exciting as big time goals. ( Jeremy Roenick).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *