Here at edmontonoilers.com, we have documented what has been an off-season of change for the Oilers organization. From the promotion of Bob Nicholson to CEO of Oilers Entertainment Group, to the hiring of Peter Chiarelli as President of Hockey Operations and General Manager. There will be a group of new coaches behind the bench this season, led by veteran Head Coach Todd McLellan. Trades and free agent signings have reshaped the roster, and don’t forget the addition of first-overall pick and expected impact centre Connor McDavid.
The ride has been fun for the fans and fun for the media to cover. It’s no surprise the league has taken notice of the Oilers improvements, but imagine being a player in the system.
Oilers winger Nail Yakupov has kept a watchful eye on the additions. Yakupov, who is in Edmonton at the Perry Pearn’s 3-on-3 Hockey Camp this week, spoke to Oilers TV about the changes to the coaching staff and front office.
“These (coaches) have been working for San Jose for many years and they’ve been playing in the playoffs. They know how to play in the playoffs. They’ve coached guys like Joe Thornton and (Joe) Pavelski and other guys… Brent Burns. It’s a good opportunity,” said Yakupov. “The GM won a Cup in Boston, right? So, it’s always good to have those types of guys.”
Like so many others, Yakupov is optimistic that the changes will help the club moving forward. But he also recognizes that the players will have to come together and prove themselves on the ice.
“I hope and everyone is hoping (the additions) are going to bring something special to our team and make our team better again,” said Yakupov. “We have to just play. Something could happen every day. You never know. I’m just happy for another season and happy to get back. I can’t wait to play and see all the guys.”
When the Oilers return to camp, they do so with the goal of turning these organizational moves into real results.
“The Oilers organization wants to do their best to make the team better,” said Yakupov. “It’s all about the team and we’ve got to stick with it. We’ve got to be together and show how we’re going to play. We’re getting older every year and the bad ways should stop one day.”