TORONTO – Don Cherry was not impressed with Nail Yakupov’s post-goal hijinks.
The commentator criticized the Edmonton Oilers rookie in his weekly Hockey Night in Canada segment on Saturday for his exuberant celebration earlier in the week.
Yakupov scored the tying goal with 4.7 seconds left in the third as Edmonton went on to beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in overtime on Thursday.
The top pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft then skated to centre ice, dropped to his knees and slid into the Oilers’ defensive end as Edmonton’s fans cheered in approval.
“If anytime you want to make our highlights at the start (of the show) just act like an idiot like this, you’ll get in our highlights,” said Cherry, as a clip of Yakupov’s celebration played.
Cherry didn’t like that Yakupov showed up Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick, who lay prone on the ice after the goal.
“Here’s the MVP of the National Hockey League, here’s the best goaltender in the world, he’s embarrassed him, laying there like that,” said Cherry. “I’m telling you they—L.A.—is going to remember this. They will remember this to the dying day.
“You don’t do stuff like that.”
Yakupov’s celebration was reminiscent of Theo Fleury’s fist-pumping reaction to scoring the game-winning goal in Game 6 of the 1991 Smythe Division semifinals when the Calgary Flames edged Edmonton in overtime.
Cherry made that connection and pointed out that, ultimately, Fleury’s celebration served to motivate the Oilers to a decisive victory in Game 7 of that series.
“(Oilers captain Mark) Messier goes in the dressing room and says, ‘Are we going to lose to these guys with that Fleury acting like that, embarrassing us,'” said Cherry. “‘We gotta go out and win this game’ and they went out and won the game.
“You cannot act like that.”
Earlier in Cherry’s segment he criticized former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson for mishandling the roster put together by former general manager Brian Burke.
“Is this team not truculent, belligerent, pugnacious, and all that stuff?” said Cherry, invoking Burke’s infamous catchphrase. “This is exactly the team (Burke) wanted and Wilson screwed him up.”