Nail Yakupov Reveals Why He Failed In The NHL

Published September 6, 2023 at 1:30 PM

Former first-overall pick Nail Yakupov is one of the most infamous draft busts in NHL history. He was though to be a generational scoring winger after he set the OHL on fire in his draft year with the Sarnia Sting. Now Yakupov has opened up in a recent interview about his time in the NHL.

Yakupov Joins The Dropping The Gloves Podcast

Nail Yakupov recently took the time to join former NHLer John Scott on the Dropping The Gloves Podcast. The two talked about a wide range of things from Yakupov's NHL career. The first interesting segment is on Oilers' former coach Dallas Eakins and how Yakupov feels he was impacted by poor coaching.

I never learned how to play, he basically never teached me. The guy was just weird, I don't know.

Yakupov says that Eakins did not teach him how to play in the NHL. Eakins did struggle in his tenure as Oilers head coach so it's not necessarily a surprise to learn that he wasn't much of a teacher. At the same time taking Yakupov's comments with a grain of salt is also probably wise.

Struggling To Connect

Next Yakupov dives into his struggle to communicate with his teammates. Due to Yakupov being from Russia, he did not speak English. This created a barrier between himself and most other guys in the locker room.

Because my English wasn't really that good I didn't really talk to players in the locker room. I had english but I was shy to talk and hang out with the guys. I still had a lot of respect for the guys I had just been watching on the tv and now I was with them. It was hard for me to get closer to them I was shy I was shy all the time.

With this in mind, Yakupov did still have one player he could rely on to be there for him.

Darcy Hordichuk, that guy's a beauty. That guy gave me life man. He picked me up everyday from the Sutton Place, I was driving with him and that's how I started talking a little bit and I didn't feel shy. I got really involved with Darcy, he's such a beauty man, he helped me a lot, like he drove me everywhere, he was buying me food, he went shopping with me, buying me some shoes.

According to Yakupov Darcy Hordichuk took Yakupov under his wing. Hordichuk would drive him around town, buy him food, and help him learn English.

This would ultimately not change Yakupov's career much but did provide him with a confidant and a mentor in his early years of professional hockey. While we will likely never see Nail Yakupov in the NHL again it is interesting to get a peek inside the career of such a promising young player who just seemed to fail. Now Yakupov continues to play in the KHL and live his professional hockey dreams.
September 6   |   52 answers
Nail Yakupov Reveals Why He Failed In The NHL

Does his interview with John Scott change your opinion on Nail Yakupov's career?

Yes2955.8 %
No2344.2 %
Latest 10 stories