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сентября 2003 года.
Yakubov skates into the picture - Chicago Sun Times
Major flop last season may earn spot as starter
If there is a position at which the Blackhawks seem reasonably set, it's center.
With the signing of Scott Nichol and Tuomo Ruutu and the return of a sleeker Tyler Arnason and captain Alex Zhamnov, the four opening-night centers appear to be in place.
On the surface, that would leave Mikhail Yakubov, the first draft choice of general manager Mike Smith in 2000, as the odd man out.
But so far in training camp, Yakubov is showing that last season's disappointing year at Norfolk of the American League was an aberration and he is looking more like the player who had 32 goals and 89 points two years ago for Red Deer of the Western Junior League.
"This year is probably the most important camp of my life," Yakubov said. "There are so many young guys in this camp. Everybody is trying to show everybody how they can play, and everybody is watching you."
Yakubov, 21, had another strong intrasquad scrimmage Sunday and scored the best goal of training camp thus far. Carrying the puck toward the net, he was tripped up and was on his stomach with a defender on top of him, but he used his long reach to sweep the puck past goaltender Steve Passmore.
Yakubov had a couple of other prime scoring chances, and his line of Pavel Vorobiev and Matt Ellison was the best on the ice.
The Hawks were hoping that Yakubov could seize the third-line center spot and Ruutu would move to left wing. But Ruutu appears stronger in the middle carrying the puck and having the freedom to be everywhere on the ice. Coach Brian Sutter also wants to keep Arnason in the middle, and there is little chance that Zhamnov will go to the wing.
"We just have to wait and watch, and if [Yakubov] makes a statement that he's ready to play here, we have to find a way to make that happen," Smith said Sunday.
Before training camp, Smith said that Yakubov was one of the more disappointing players in the organization last season. In 62 games he had only six goals and 11 points. He missed some time with an injured ankle, but his work ethic also was questioned.
"It's kind of a big step between junior and pro hockey," Yakubov said. "Maybe I thought it would be easy the whole season."
The 6-foot-3-inch, 202-pound Yakubov has enough skill that at times he makes the game look easy, but it also means at times he looks like he's not playing hard.
"Maybe it looks like I'm not skating too hard, and maybe sometimes it's true, but not every time," Yakubov said. "I sprained my ankle and missed 10 games [last season]. After that [Norfolk coach Trent Yawney] put me in the lineup, and maybe it looked like I wasn't playing too hard because my ankle was hurt. I don't want to say it was only my ankle."
Sutter added that it also was only Yakubov's second season living in North America.
"It was a lot different living here than in Red Deer, Alberta, and Red Deer is a lot different than where he lived in Russia," Sutter said. "He was immature in the sense that it was all new to him."
But with a professional season under his belt, and perhaps facing a crossroads in his career, Yakubov has come to his second NHL camp in better physical shape and has thus far been very noticeable. He's aware, though, that it's how he performs in the exhibition games that will determine whether the Hawks have to make a tough decision regarding their centers.
"Everybody wants to see what you can do on the ice," he said.
1 декабря. "Чикаго" забирает у "Спартака" нападающего
Якубова - "Спорт-Экспресс".
1 декабря. "Чикаго" забирает у "Спартака" нападающего Якубова - "Спорт-Экспресс".