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[Article] Yakupov Not Happy With Benching

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WASHINGTON- As practice was wrapping up at the Verizon Center, Dallas Eakins sought out winger Nail Yakupov for a discussion that will no doubt continue on into the days to come as the Edmonton Oilers bench boss tries to develop the winger’s game.

Yakupov had been pulled from the Oilers lineup before they took on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. It was the first time in his career that he was scratched for a game, and, naturally, he was not happy.

While his time in the press box was mighty uncomfortable, it might not yet be over. Eakins may not re-insert Yakupov until Tuesday when the Oilers play the Pittsburgh Penguins.

&I wasnt happy about it last night,& said Yakupov. ;You can say a million words about getting better but coach says Im not playing, so Im not playing.

Im not happy about it. I just want to play every game.

Im going to play my game he said. Im not going to change but maybe play better without the puck, or forecheck more, but I love playing with the puck. I really dont like skating all the time, and forechecking, and hitting somebody every shift. I dont think its my game.

Eakins said part of his discussion with Yakupov was that they just felt that the winger had got to a point where he was so frustrated because the points weren&t coming that the rest of his game was slipping.

The kids passion is to score and he was just going to take it all on himself to do that, said Eakins. ;I don't care how good you are, you cant produce by yourself in this league. You have to use your linemates, so it was more of a reset button for him. He can come in fresh with a new perspective.

“Hes young and he has so much to learn about the proper way to play the game and once he grasps that, he is going to be dangerous when he steps on the ice. The thing about these guys who have that special gift of being able to put the puck in the net, is that once it starts not going in for them in the first couple of games, it can snowball quickly the other way where they maybe start cheating for offence then maybe looking away from the defensive part of the game.

“I love his passion and he loves to play and he takes it real personally when things arent going his way and those are great attributes to have except when it really starts to affect your game

Eakins acknowledged that Yakupov has probably created a lot on his own for a long time but is also of the belief that he has to earn the right to play with top six linemates.

The sophomore has been playing a third line role in five-on-five situations, although that has been augmented by power play minutes.

I explained that to him, said the coach. ;I said youre in tough. I have four wingers ahead of you right now who are playing better. Your job is to take one of them out.

Players will always tell you this: play me more and Ill play better. The coach always says, play better and Ill play you more. Were going to go by the coaches rules.


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