On Janurary 24th, Edmonton Oilers rookie Nail Yakupov was the subject of a Don Cherry rant (well, who isn’t) and he was talked about all around Canada — and Los Angeles. The reason was Yakupov’s over-the-top celebration after scoring a game-tying goal on Jonathan Quick and the Kings. Yakupov scored and proceeded to sprint down the ice and slide on his knees as though he had just won the Stanley Cup for the Oilers.
Obviously, Oilers fans have no problem with this and they really shouldn’t. Yakupov is yet another budding young star on a team of budding young stars — a team that’s been just awful for so long. So naturally once things start going good, people are going to get loose with the rules, or the celebrations. But around the Los Angeles, the vitriol seems to disregard the plight of Oilers fans and center on how Yakupov danced all over them for no good reason.
Don Cherry predicted that the Kings would remember Yakupov’s celebration and retaliate the next time the two teams played. But Yakupov was asked if he expects any retaliation when the two teams meet again tonight, and his response was short, to the point and hilariously ironic: we’re all adults here.
“They are not 12-year-olds,” Yakupov said in response, according to the Edmonton Sun. “They are men. They have families.”
Oiler head coach Ralph Krueger said that Yakupov isn’t a showboat type of player and that he was just over excited about scoring a goal to get his team back into the game.
“I don’t think there was anything except youthful exuberance,” Krueger said. “He’s just a passionate kid who loves being here and there was nothing dishonest in that. I couldn’t imagine that a team with the level of L.A. Kings would take that any different.”
It will be interesting to see tonight if the Kings try anything to get back at Yakupov for embarrassing them the way he did. No one expects anything but seeing Jonathan Quick slide down the ice if the Kings win wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to witness.