While we may have our doubts about the upcoming NHL season, it seems that Edmonton Oilers' prospect Nail Yakupov does not. Following the Russia Canada Challenge, Yakupov has returned to Edmonton to do a little house hunting for him and his family to live in. The Yakupovs all lived together in Sarnia which may have helped Yakupov to feel comfortable and content, but may also have held the fiesty winger back in terms of his English skills. Perhaps the best thing the Oilers can do about this is is pair Yakupov with anyone but Nikolai Khabibulin when on the road. If Yakupov has a non Russian speaking roommate, he may gain the confidence he needs to speak English more fluidly and more rapidly. But given the difference between pre-draft video and the videos this week of Yakupov, you can tell that he has been putting in the effort already.
And in case you were wondering why Yakupov can say that Edmonton is a big city, it is because Sarnia has a population of about 72,000 and his home town of Nizhnekamsk has a scant 234,000 while the city of Edmonton has surpassed the million mark when you take into account the immediate surrounding areas.
Otherwise, this has been another week of hoping for good news from the NHL and the NHLPA. But alas, Gary Bettman has dashed those hopes saying on Wednesday:
"I think it's fair to say that we value the [union's] proposal and what it means in terms of its economics differently than the players' association does. And, I think there are still a number of issues where we're looking at the world differently. I'm not sure that there has yet been recognition of the economics in our world, and I mean the greater world and the sports industry, taking into account what recently happened with the NFL and the NBA.
"And, so there is still a wide gap between us with not much time to go … I do think it's fair to say that the sides are still apart, far apart, have different views of the world and the issues."
Perhaps this lockout will be like the NBA's last season, and there will still be hockey. But there is just as likely a chance that the lockout will be much like the last. The only good thing we can draw from that is that the Oilers went on their cup run the season after the lockout... perhaps history will repeat itself in both regards.