Don Cherry Says Nail Yakupov “Acted Like an Idiot” During Goal Celebration

Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /
Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

If there’s two stereotypes Americans have about Canada hockey, it’s that everyone is really good at it and everyone speaks about it like Don Cherry. The interesting thing about Cherry is that while Canadians are a pretty laid back people, Cherry is the most American in his actions, which is probably why he’s so accepted here.

A great example of Cherry’s “American-ness” occurred last night when he got rambunctious in his criticism of Edmonton Oilers’ rookie Nail Yakupov and the way he celebrated his goal against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.  To paint a picture: the rookie scored a game-tying goal against one of the best goalies in the NHL and proceeded to skate and slide down the length of the ice as though he’s just won the Stanley Cup.

Basically, if you’re familiar with Theo Flurry’s identical celebration back in 1991, you’ve got a vivid image of what Yakupov did on

It was great to see such enthusiasm from the man Oiler Country refers to as “Yaks”, but it rubbed Cherry the wrong way and on Saturday Night’s broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada, Cherry said Yakupov “acted like an idiot” when he celebrated.

“Anytime you want to make our highlights at the start [of the show], just act like an idiot.” Cherry said, introducing the highlight of Yakupov’s goal and the ensuing celebration.

“I am telling you, L.A. is going to remember this until their dying day that you don’t do stuff like that,” Cherry said in his rant. “And everyone tells me, ‘well what about Flurry’. … it’s nice to be known twenty years later for something like that.”

Cherry was of course referencing Theo Flurry’s celebration and the fact that Flurry was doing rounds of interviews giving his opinion on Yakupov’s celebration in relation to his own back in 1991. Ironically, Flurry’s goal celebration happened in Edmonton on a game winning goal against the Oilers.

The thesis of Cherry’s argument is this: when the Calgary Flames returned to Edmonton after Flurry’s celebration, Mark Messier motivated the Oilers to go out and erase a 3-0 deficit with the celebration as motivation. Cherry says that when the Kings play the Pilers again this season, which isn’t until April 6th, they won’t have forgotten Yakupov’s goal.

Oilers fans obviously don’t think the celebration was over the top, but the debate is still fluid as to whether or not Yakupov got a little too excited over a goal that merely tied a game.