With his international transfer card controversy all cleared up, Nail Yakupov was ready to rejoin his KHL club for Monday night’s big game against Alex Ovechkin and Dynamo Moscow.
Just one problem — Yakupov’s coach wasn’t ready.
Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk bench boss Vladimir Golubovich didn’t dress Yakupov for the game, which Dynamo won 5-1. The decision, while curious, was apparently more upsetting to fans than the first overall pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
“It’s a pity that I can’t play against Dynamo,” Yakupov told Soviet Sport. “To play with Ovechkin would be great! But no worries — that’s hockey. I’ve got no hard feelings toward the coaches.”
Yakupov is the youngest player on the Neftekhimik roster and has only appeared in two games thus far, going scoreless with a minus-1 rating and seven shots on goal while averaging 12:28 TOI.
While it’s not unusual for such a young, inexperienced player to be dropped from the lineup, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector points out it’s one of the fears people had with Yakupov going to the KHL rather than the OHL:
NYT reports that Nail Yakupov was a healthy scratch last night in KHL. That was Oil’s fear, compared to starring in Sarnia.
— Mark Spector Sports (@SportsnetSpec) October 2, 2012
Neftekhimik’s next game is on Wednesday against Ilya Kovalchuk’s SKA St. Petersburg. No word yet if Yakupov will be re-inserted into the lineup.