If you missed it last night, worry not, you are bound to see the highlights of the Edmonton Oilers exhilarating win over the Los Angeles Kings over and over, and over again.
The good news however is that the highlights from the game are the types you will never get tired of, particularly the goal celebration of dynamic Oilers rookie Nail Yakupov.
After batting the puck out of mid-air to tie the game with just five seconds left on the clock, Yakupov, seemingly feeding off the frenzied Edmonton fans, skated past his joyous teammates and slid across center-ice on his knees. The celebration, which hockey fans will find reminiscent of Theo Fleury’s celebration after an overtime goal for the Calgary Flames in 1991, could best be described as one of pure jubilation and a demonstration of the passion and unbridled enthusiasm that the 19-year-old Russian plays with.
Of course over the next few days, especially as we head into the weekend with Hockey Night In Canada, opinions on Yakupov’s celebration will be heavily critqued. Many will say that they absolutely loved seeing a young player show so much excitement after scoring what was without question the biggest goal of his young career to date. Others will say that he went too far and will surely bring up the adage that he should have “acted like he’d been there before” and celebrated like an emotionless robot.
In the way that Alex Ovechkin was often criticised early in his career for his famboyant behavior after goals, Yakupov is sure to hear some of the same rumblings about how he should tone it down when scoring a goal and not make himself bigger than his team or the game.
But please Nail, do not buy into that notion.
The fans who love hockey for its purity and the thrilling moments that goals like the one you scored create, understand and appreciate reactions that stem from pure passion. How could someone not be expected to be excited in a moment like that? I wouldn’t have blamed Yakupov if he instead would have fired his stick and gloves into the air and jumped on Devan Dubnyk like his team had just won the Stanley Cup. That is what a sport like hockey is all about. If you get offended by a teenager reacting out of spur of the moment excitement and adrenaline then you are probably watching the wrong sport.
No Nail, there was nothing absolutely wrong with your celebration. Don’t let anyone tell you different.