SUN Hockey Pool

Nail Yakupov goes from tight-lipped to easy-going

Nail Yakupov chats with Ryan Smyth during a break in the Oilers skate Thursday at Rexall Place....

Nail Yakupov chats with Ryan Smyth during a break in the Oilers skate Thursday at Rexall Place. (Perry Mah, Edmonton Sun)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:21 PM ET

EDMONTON - Exuding some of the same exuberance and much of the same excitement he showed at development camp six months ago, it was great to see the entertaining, enchanting and engaging Yak back.

That is, of course, as opposed to the other Nail Yakupov, the one who was pretty much the opposite of all those things with Russia at every stop on the Subway Series tour and throughout the World Junior in Ufa.

First on the ice, for his first time on the ice at Rexall Place, after Oilers’ Russian netminder Nikolai Khabibulin drove him to the rink, the Edmonton Oilers third consecutive No. 1 overall draft pick found himself surrounded by two dozen members of the media in a scrum. And as he was in his previous trips to town, he was a total delight.

Yakupov, who arrived at the rink wearing his Russia jacket and toque but did the interviews wearing Oilers shirt and hat, made the transition from the one guy back to being the other guy that easily.

He kidded that he slept in the Oil


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