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11 января 2013 года.
Yakupov anxious to start Oilers career; First practice; Parents, family also on the way for support // National Post

Matheson, Jim.

EDMONTON - If you are wondering how Nail Yakupov is feeling about being in Edmonton, all you need to know is he was the first guy on the ice at Thursday's informal skate at Rexall Place.

Of course, the Edmonton Oilers' first overall pick in the June 2012 NHL entry draft didn't have far to go.

"Where are you staying?" the Russian winger was asked.

"Here ... locker-room," said Yakupov.

"No, I mean where? In a hotel?" said a reporter.

"No, I am here," he said, without breaking stride, but later breaking into a smile.

Well, he did say last summer he'd be calling the Oilers dressing room his home.

Yakupov, who flew from Russia to Frankfurt, Germany, and then to Calgary to get here on Wednesday, actually has a place to stay outside his locker stall or a bunk in the trainer's room for the next little while. He's staying at a hotel.

His mother, sister and father will also be joining him to help with the NHL acclimation, although Yakupov did play two junior years in Sarnia with the Ontario Hockey League's Sting, so he's not a North American neophyte.

"When do they get here?" he was asked.

"Why you want to know?" Yakupov said.

"Because I'm, uh, a reporter," said the veteran scribe.

"They are coming, soon. First game? I hope," he said.

OK, maybe Yakupov doesn't like to answer every question, but he said he welcomes the glare of expectations in Edmonton.

"I was impressed he'd be out here today ... it had to be tough coming from Russia (Kazan to Frankfurt to Calgary to Edmonton)," said Oilers winger Jordan Eberle, one of a dozen players who practised for over an hour, with Ryan Whitney, Ryan Smyth, Ben Eager and Jeff Petry also joining the group on Thursday.

Yakupov seems thrilled to be here. He rushed to Edmonton, unlike New Jersey Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who played a Kontinental Hockey League game earlier this week and didn't feel like leaving his St. Petersburg, Russia, team until he was ready.

"It's not my deal," said Yakupov. "When the lockout was done, I said I was coming right after to play with the Edmonton Oilers."

"He[Kovalchuk] has his life. He is probably coming now. He has a [NHL] contract."

Yakupov had fellow Russian Nikolai Khabibulin, the Oilers veteran goaltender, chauffeur him to Rexall Place for his first Edmonton skate since his junior club won a bronze medal in Ufa, beating Canada 6-5 in overtime.

"When I was younger I watched him [Khabibulin] on TV, winning a Stanley Cup [Tampa Bay Lightning] ... now he's getting me at the hotel and bringing me to the rink. It's great to have him as my teammate now," said Yakupov.

Khabibulin turns 40 this Sunday, when the Oilers will undergo fitness testing and have their medicals.

"He's the same age as my father ... 1973 [year he was born]. That is pretty cool," Yakupov said.

"This is amazing [to be playing alongside Khabibulin, Ryan Smyth, Ryan Whitney.. My dream has been to play in the NHL and while this was only my first practice and not everybody was here, I still skated with guys who've been in the NHL for a lot of years."
Credit: Jim Matheson; Postmedia News

Страничка Наилья Якупова на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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