Nail Yakupov is KHL Bound (For the Lockout)

Justin K. Aller - Getty Images

The issue surrounding Nail Yakupov's ability to play in the KHL has been resolved. Hockey Canada released the following statement earlier today:

"Hockey Canada and the Russian Ice Hockey Federation have announced that the OHL has determined that Yakupov had no independent legal advice when, at the age of 17 years old, he signed his contract with Sarnia. His release goes into effect immediately."

While the end result here is a positive one in that Yakupov is now free to play in the KHL, where he will face much tougher competition than he would have in Sarnia, the justification offered by Hockey Canada makes me think that we have likely not heard that last of this story.

I think it is a reasonable assumption that faced with the pressure from the Oilers, the KHL and Yakupov's agent to resolve the matter quickly, the OHL found a loophole that allowed them to free Yakupov from his commitment to the Sarnia Sting. The problem here is that this will (or at least should) now raise questions about why Yakupov was able to sign his OHL contract without proper legal representation and why that contract was allowed to stand for two full seasons before the process was deemed to be sufficiently tainted enough that the contract was immediately determined to be void.

For today though, the story is that Yakupov is now eligible to play in the KHL for the duration of the lockout. Here is the statement from the KHL on the matter as posted on their website (Hat tip to Dimitry Chesnokov at Puck Daddy for providing the translated statement):

"Thanks to a constructive dialog and joined efforts of KHL president Alexander Medvedev, Russian Hockey Federation Vladislav Tretiak and Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson, an agreement has been reached regarding forward Nail Yakupov's play for Neftekhimik. Kontinental Hockey League points out the flexibility and the understanding of the Edmonton [Oilers] and the Sarnia [Sting] hockey clubs during the negotiation process. Nail Yakupov may resume playing for Neftekhimik on Monday, October 1 in a game against Dynamo Moscow."

While the statement tries to position all of the parties in a positive manner for their roles in finding a swift resolution to the issue, the fact of the matter is that this problem really should never have existed in the first place. The Oilers, Hockey Canada, the Sarnia Sting, the KHL and Yakupov's Agent Igor Larionov all need to own their piece of the blame for having insufficient knowledge of the proper process and/or a serious lack of effective communication.

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