When it rains, it pours in Edmonton. Or, more accurately, when it snows it comes down in heaps. The Oilers were already the worst team in the NHL again and playing without the services of hot rookie Connor McDavid. Now, thanks to a gruesome accident, Edmonton has lost Nail Yakupov.
The speedy and offensively gifted Russian was hurt in last night's 4-1 loss to Carolina when linesman Matt MacPherson lost his balance after a faceoff. The official grabs Yakupov as he is falling, resulting in what football fans might call a horse-collar tackle. Yakupov ends up bending on his own ankle as MacPherson lands on it and it is not pretty:
The affable right winger was helped off the ice and notably was not putting any weight on his ankle. He did not return to the game and Edmonton Journal writer Jim Matheson has reported that Yakupov will miss two to four weeks with an ankle sprain.
This is a shame on several levels, not the least of which is that Yakupov was having his best season since the lockout-shortened campaign of 2012-13 (which was also his rookie year). The young Russian seemed unleashed by coach Todd McLellan and naturally having good linemates such as McDavid pre-injury had helped. The Oilers were already floundering and this freak happening almost seems like kicking the city while its down.
And hey – how about a bit of sympathy for the linesman, MacPherson? No one ever mentions these guys by name unless they do something wrong and clearly this was a terrible accident that could have happened to anyone.
Hopefully the Yakupov spill turns out to be one of those cases where it looked a lot worse than it actually was.