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)

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


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.

Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Montreal Canadiens v Minnesota Wild
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Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?

TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:

“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”


Daly said that he’d be surprised  “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”

As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.

For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.

The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.

So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?

At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”

Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.