The Oilers’ Nail Yakupov Is An Accidental Controversy Magnet. How Can He Fix That?

  • Glenn Davis

Hey, remember last week, when Oilers rookie Nail Yakupov scored a huge, game-tying goal, got real excited, and some people actually thought this was a bad thing? Well, he scored another huge goal last night – an overtime game-winner against the Coyotes. Did he celebrate the same way this time? Not even close. Was there a ruckus anyway? You bet there was! Was Yakupov the cause of it? Well, the announcers seemed to think so, but… here’s the clip. Decide for yourself:

There are a few ways to interpret the “c’mon over” signal Yakupov gave, and the mini-brawl that followed. One: Yakupov was signaling to his teammates to come over and celebrate – considering he did have teammates in his immediate area, this seems a logical explanation – and the Coyotes misinterpreted this. Another is that Yakupov was trying to smack talk the Coyotes, they were justifiably angry, and went after him before Yakupov’s teammate Ryan Whitney intercepted the angry opponent. And the third possibility is that Yakupov was signaling for his teammates and the Coyotes weren’t mad at him at all, purely took issue with Whitney, and Yakupov looks like a he can’t help but find trouble even though he had nothing to do with this particular controversy.

Obviously the announcers above chose the second option, and thought Yakupov was hot dogging (as much as one can be hot dogging with a celebration that understated, anyway). And we’d bet good money that their thinking was influenced by his celebration from last week – you know, the celebration that was the polar opposite of this one and that most people defended vigorously. The guy can’t win.

So what should Yakupov do to ensure no one gets mad at him the next time he scores? We have a few suggestions:

1. Lay inert. Problem, though: it could come off as some bit of elaborate performance art. “He thinks he’s bigger than the game!” they’ll say. Risky move.

2. Put his head down, nod, and say “Good” to himself. Could be similar issues with this one – what, he doesn’t even get excited when he scores? He thinks that game is that easy? Showoff. No respect for his opponents.

3. Keep on doing exactly what he’s doing, celebrating however the hell he feels like celebrating in the moment, and not worrying about the fallout. We like this option, but the controversies will keep happening for no reason, which would be annoying.

So if he really wants to take drastic, action, the only foolproof solution…

4. Never score another goal. No goals, no celebrations. Everyone’s happy. Well, except Yakupov and the Oilers.