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.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?