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Uh oh, people are already calling Yakupov a “prima donna”

Jan 3, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT

Nail Yakupov #64 of the Edmonton Oilers clowns around for the media at the 2012 NHLPA rookie showcase at the MasterCard Centre on August 28, 2012 in Toronto, Canada.
(August 27, 2012 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

Russian players frequently find themselves being labeled “enigmatic” even if they do their best with the press, but look out if they have a frostier relationship with the media.

Edmonton Oilers prospect Nail Yakupov didn’t grant interviews after Russian advanced to the World Junior Championships semifinal round thanks to a 4-3 shootout win against Switzerland on Wednesday.

The top pick of the 2012 NHL Draft likely chose to avoid microphones because of the uproar over his comments about Team Canada being “dirty,” but that didn’t stop many journalists from slamming him for his Q & A aversion.

The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples collects the highlights, which include:

  • Vancouver Sun columnist Cam Cole validating his “prima donna” assumption.
  • The Journal’s Jim Matheson claiming that the “kid needs a wake-up call.”
  • The Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones thinks Yakupov is “making people wonder on and off the ice.”

Staples also notes that there was fallout to the fallout, with some claiming that xenophobia was involved and others saying they’ll just worry about his on-ice results.

The article also points to some interesting fan reactions, with Michael Parkatti’s Tweet being among the most interesting.

While other young Oilers are generating glowing praise, Yakupov is seemingly becoming a divisive force before he plays his first NHL minute.

  1. budzo83 - Jan 3, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    No one will care as long as he puts the puck in the net.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 3, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      Alex Kovalev.

      • davebabychreturns - Jan 3, 2013 at 11:43 AM

        No one would care about him if he played to 80% of his capacity 80% of the time, instead of 100% of it 40% of the time.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 3, 2013 at 11:55 AM

        True. We’ll have to see which one Yakupov chooses.

  2. jaybird22seven - Jan 3, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Nail Yakapov will be the new poster boy for the most hated guy in the NHL !!!!

  3. misterchainbluelightning - Jan 3, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Edmonton picked the wrong kid again
    The Nugg over Landeskog was a mistake just like Nail over Galchenyuk.

  4. rtookey - Jan 3, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Nuge played 20 fewer games and had the same points. Landeskog got rookie of the year because of his physical play. Thats fine and dandy until his playing style turns him into an injury prone disaster.

  5. supercoop8 - Jan 3, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    My prediction for Yakupov is that he will purchase a ton of gold chains.

  6. smgraff4 - Jan 3, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    As we have learned, it is very different going between different environments. Yakupov went from being “one of the guys” in the higher pressure OHL to “the guy” on a very small team in the KHL. The fact of the matter is, from what I have read, he may be putting up some points in the KHL, but he has had a few run-in or two with his coaches over there. But the truth is you don’t learn about players until they go through adversity. And a guy like Yakupov needs a few “no people” in his life to help him get better both as a person and as a hockey player.

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