Five minutes into my interview with Kirill Tulupov, I knew he was unique. His eloquence is delightful, and his sincerity, passion and drive is truly refreshing. The overwhelming positive feedback, comments and articles generated by his interview surprised us both — it certainly exceeded my expectations. My hope that local OKC Barons fans would read the interview and become better acquainted with one of their players was far surpassed. Derek Zona wrote a highly complimentary article at The Copper & Blue, and Jonathan Willis, with the Edmonton Journal, also wrote an article on Tulupov’s “spectacularly candid interview.”

Shortly after Kirill’s interview was published here, he played in a game against the Texas Stars in Cedar Park where he, in an overheated moment, made an “obscene gesture” — using that pesky middle finger — and as a result he was suspended for two games.  While some fans were amused by it — calling it all part of the game of hockey —  others were disappointed and even angered by the gesture. Tulupov immediately regretted his action and wanted Texas and OKC fans to be aware that he knew what he had done was wrong and that it was not in any way directed at them. In a written apology that was sent to Texas fans late this week, Tulupov spoke from his heart once again:

Dear fans!

Since my first days in hockey I was taught to respect the noble audience. I’ve been carrying along this attitude all my life. That’s why the gesture that rightfully brought about your anger was under no way directed to you! Moreover I admit that the very fact of that gesture was out of place anyway. It happened on the spur of the moment. I simply lost my temper. It was a mistake I’ll never repeat in the future. I am deeply sorry to have hurt your feelings. This apology goes right out of my heart. God bless you all!

Sincerely yours,

Kirill Tulupov

Tulupov’s apology and back story was published in Neal Livingston’s perceptive article Kirill Tulupov’s Apology Shows his Authenticity on The Copper & Blue on Friday morning.

Late yesterday afternoon we were thrilled to learn that the OKC Barons had signed Kirill Tulupov to a Standard Players Contract. Baron’s General Manager Bill Scott said: “Kirill is a young player who loves the game of hockey and playing in Oklahoma City. He set out to make this team from training camp and has shown us that he can be a valuable player to our team. We expect Kirill to elevate his game even further as the season progresses.”

What an amazing week for Kirill Tulupov and hockey fans! An interview, suspension, apology and, now a contract — an off-ice extended Gordie Howe hat trick of sorts? Last night I watched as Kirill graciously introduced himself to a 6-year-old fan —  he leaned down, smiled gently and shook the small hand of a little boy who was completely in awe and speechless. What a memory! All of this sums up Kirill Tulupov. He is sincerely open-hearted, generous and caring, yet he can be incredibly feisty on the ice. OKC hockey fans can now relax and enjoy watching Tulupov play here in OKC and, we look forward to watching him throughout his career. He has gained many fans here who are now fans for life.

Welcome to OKC, Kirill!