This could not have been the reception that Dallas Eakins was anticipating when he accepted his first National Hockey League head-coaching job with the Edmonton Oilers.
Eakins was seen as the white knight when he arrived out west, a key building block to helping a young, and seemingly talented, Oilers hockey club climb back into the playoff hunt for the first time since 2006.
It hasn’t exactly gone as planned for the former Toronto Marlies head honcho.
The Oilers have struggled this season and will cart a Pacific Division-worst 4-13-2 record into Wednesday night’s game against the Dallas Stars.
And now Eakins will have to deal with the outburst of one of it’s young stars, Nail Yakupov, who has sounded off about his perceived role with the Oilers.
Surrounded by a hoard of media following practice on Tuesday, the former No. 1 overall draft pick from 2012 was expected to try to downplay comments his agent, Igor Larinov, made the day before that his client would not be averse to a trade.
Instead, the 20-year-old with 65 NHL games to his credit, only fanned the flames.
And this from a still wet-behind-the-ears youngster who is a league-high minus-14 with two goals and two assists on the season.
“We have to do something, because I don’t see any trust to me now because I play lower and lower minutes,” Yakupov moaned. “I just want to help my team win every game but I haven’t had much chance to do that.
“Last five games I haven’t played over 10 minutes. I’m frustrated, (Larionov’s) frustrated, my friends are frustrated, everybody who gives advice...”
Eakins has said that Yakupov is not going anywhere, a sentiment that Edmonton GM Craig MacTavish reiterated on Tuesday.
Things have also gone mostly downhill this season for the Buffalo Sabres and it was only amplified after the elevator at the First Niagara Center broke down prior to the Sabres game against the Los Angeles Kings.
The malfunction meant that Rick Jeanneret was unable to get to his perch to work the game so the veteran play-by-play man donned a helmet and called the game from ice level between the benches.
The Sabres responded by somehow emerging with a 3-2 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings despite pulling a Toronto Maple Leafs by getting outshot 45-17.
For the Sabres, it was their first home victory of the year.
Are the Blue Jays using Bautista as trade bait?
Major League Baseball’s general managers are meeting this week in Orlando where trade rumors have been known to pop up from time to time.
This year is no different with Philadelphia radio sports jock Howard Eskin reporting that the Phillies and the Blue Jays are involved in “serious talks” about a deal involving Toronto slugger Jose Bautista.
According to Eskin, Bautista, the former American League home run leader, would be sent to Philadelphia in exchange for outfielder Domonic Brown, a player that Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos has long coveted.
The Blue Jays have also been rumored as a landing spot for second baseman Robinson Cano, the New York Yankee star who is testing free agency.
But unless the Blue Jays are willing to move off their policy of not handing out contracts for six years, the Cano rumors will remain just that.
Wiggins passes first big test for Kansas
It was the first big test of the college season for U.S. college prep star Andrew Wiggins whose Kansas Jayhawks prevailed 94-83 over Duke in a tournament meeting in Chicago.
The Toronto native and the player most expect will be chosen No. 1 overall in the 2014 NBA draft was going head-to-head against Duke's Jabari Parker, another highly-touted prospect.
Parker outscored Wiggins, 27 to 22, but it was Wiggins who scored the key baskets down the stretch that helped lead Kansas to the win.
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