by Lisa Brown on 07/02/12 at 03:15 PM ET
I wasn’t able to attend all of the Oilers’ development camp, and I’m honestly not sure that I would have given the opportunity. It’s drill after drill and just a chance to see the young prospects interact more than anything. For me, one day of going in, talking to the other writers, the fans and taking a thousand photos to last me through the season is more than enough. But still some interesting stories seem to come out of camp every day. Usually these stories have centered around the goal celebrations of one Nail Yakupov. But really people, it’s development camp. It’s for fun. It’s for the fans. Let’s let the “kids” enjoy themselves?
Nail Yakupov knows that of the 500+ fans in attendance each day, at least 99% of those fans are there to see what he looks like on the ice. These fans have paid to see their beloved Oilers finish 30th, 30th and 29th for the past two seasons, and now they want more. Enter Yakupov.
Yakupov may not have watched every Oilers game, but you wouldn’t have to to understand just how their season went, or why they finished so poorly. And with that in mind, it might be easy for a young player with a lot of swagger and a lot of confidence to walk in and try to shake things up. After all, isn’t that why the Oilers drafted him? They sure didn’t pick him for his shyness and demur manner.
And so even though it’s just a series of drills, why would you expect anything less than a little bit of goal celebrations? Yakupov is just trying to contribute in his own way, and so far it’s working. Fans talk only about getting his autograph and how great it will be to see him playing with the rest of the young stars. But the latter is all anyone who writes about the Oilers must be thinking about as well, how do you figure out who plays first and who plays second line.
Even if the veterans had a problem with Yakupov’s goal celebrations at development camp, they sure aren’t tweeting about it. It’s very unlikely they haven’t heard about it, especially with so many members of the local media talking about it. And even if they did take issue with something like fist pumping goal celebrations, that’s something that can be dealt with later. But then again, Alex Ovechkin has been allowed to celebrate his goals and he looks really happy doing it. When the Oilers’ losses piled up, game after game, I can tell you that the faces on the ice didn’t look as happy.
So let the kid be happy, let him smile, let him celebrate. It’s only camp and it only makes us that much more excited for the next season. The Oilers have been struggling to attract free agents for years, but wouldn’t having happy and talented players make Edmonton a more desirable destination?
I say bring on the entertainment, bring on the goals that deserve celebration and bring on the next season.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
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