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Monday, December 31, 2012

Don Cherry “hits the Nail on the head” — Then Yakupov Lies by Pretending that he did not Call Canadian Players “Dirty” — 2013 World Junior Championship

On December 26, 2012, TSN reported that Nail Yakupov (in answering questions from a representative from a Russian sport site) called the Canadian junior hockey players “dirty.” That didn’t surprise me at all and Yakupov was obviously declaring what was in his heart.
 
TSN wrote:
 
Speaking to Russian news website R-Sport on Monday, Yakupov reportedly said, “I understand that I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations. Especially against the Canadians. These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in the North America, so our team is ready. Of course, I'm ready for the leading role morally, physically and by all other criteria,” Yakupov said.
 
Don Cherry responded in turn via his Twitter account by saying (as quoted from Edmonton Journal.com):
 
I see where Nail Yakupov said Canadian hockey players are dirty. Let me see… We let him take a Canadian kids spot in the Canadian Hockey … League, let him learn his hockey in our program, treat him royally, give him great coaching so he can go number one overall and he calls us … Dirty. Canadian people are no [so?] naïve, no let me change that word to dumb. We love everybody and everybody hates us. Like I said, when you … Hear Russians cheering for Germans you have to wonder. And the kid Yakupov is just being honest as that’s how he feels about us. … I could care less what Nail thinks of us, what bugs me, he took a Canadian kids spot in the Canadian Hockey League.”
 
I don’t agree with Don on everything, but regarding Yakupov he “hit the Nail on the head!” The only thing that Don should have changed is the direction of his “dumb” comment. He should have aimed it directly at the CHL, the teams, and the Canadian government, rather than applying it to “Canadian people” as a whole—because many of us are intelligent. In my opinion, foreign youth should be required to learn the game in their home countries rather than being allowed to take positions that Canadian youth would have. Shame on the CHL (and individual teams) for robbing Canadian boys the opportunity to play and perhaps advance to the NHL and other professional leagues!
 
Yakupov Lies
 
After the media frenzy over Yakupov’s and Don Cherry’s comments, Yakupov decided to remain quiet; but, when the media would not let the issue rest, Yakupov came up with a lie to try to lesson the effects of his comment, and on December 30th he delivered the lie to a reporter (with the assistance of a translator who he probably did not even need).  By lying, Yakupov disgraced himself and ruined his reputation. He reminds me of a sneaky kid who thinks that people are stupid enough to believe all of his lies—and unfortunately the CHL did buy one of Yakupov’s lies and it was regarding his contract with the Sting and I will talk about that later. Okay, let’s get to Yakupov’s December 30th lie (which was in the form of a video and aired by our friends at TSN).
 
On the TSN video Yakupov said (in response to being questioned about calling Canadian players “dirty”):
 
“I didn’t say that.”
 
He had a Russian translator with him and they attempted to state that the meaning of what he had originally stated was altered in “translation.” Yakupov claimed that he said that Canadian players “can” be “dirty” rather than they “are dirty;” and, the translator added that Yakupov meant that “anyone can be dirty”—however, these two statements are shown to be lies because they don’t fit in the context of the interview that he gave to the Russian sports site. Once again, he told the Russian sports reporter:
 
“I understand that I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations. Especially against the Canadians. These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in the North America, so our team is ready.
 
As you can see he said that he “will” have to keep a cool head, and “will” does not fit with “can” when referring to Canadians as dirty. Then, to seal the issue, Yakupov said that his junior team “got used to that” after playing games in North America. Clearly, he meant that the Canadians “are dirty” and not that they “can” be dirty. “Got used to that” refers to a regular occurrence and not an occasional or possible occurrence. Even if one wanted to argue that he could have said that they “can” play dirty, it is only a minor difference as compared to “are dirty” and does not change the fact that he insulted Canada and Canadians who gave so much to help him and who are responsible for where he is today!  
 
The issue is not whether the Canadians are dirty—and in my opinion, the Canadian game needs to be cleaned-up even more—but the two issues are:
 
1.  That Yakupov clearly tried to lie his way out of what he had originally said because he did not want to suffer any ramifications in the future. I’m not going to excuse him until he admits his guilt—I doubt that he never will, and certainly the Oilers will talk to him further about the issue and they will try to bury it forever.  
 
2.  Yakupov showed no respect for Canada and Canadian hockey by badmouthing us after we had indeed spoiled the little bugger rotten by giving him hockey coaching, hockey experience, education, food, lodging, and countless other benefits! How many people made sacrifices of time and money in behalf of the little ingrate? His spot on the Sarnia Sting should have been given to a Canadian youth! Canadian people helped Yakupov to become a “somebody” in the hockey world, including being #1 in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft—and he returns the favor by purposely disgracing those who sacrificed in his behalf and also Canada itself! Furthermore, after the draft and in the face of the lockout, Yakupov did not want to play for the Sting and he was somehow able to convince Hockey Canada that he did not understand the contract obligations that he had with the Sting—he wanted out so that he could go to the KHL to make big money. Shockingly, Hockey Canada went forth to excuse Yakupov of his obligations to the Sting—yes, Mr. Cherry this was “naïve,” “dumb,” and clear favoritism to a #1 draft choice! How much money and / or time do you think Yakupov will give back to help the Canadian Hockey League and the people who labored in his behalf—none! Screw Yakupov and all other ungrateful foreign youth who are taking advantage of a faulty Canadian system! The fact is that Yakupov used an unfair Canadian system to provide himself the best opportunity to make it into the NHL. When I say “unfair,” once again I mean to Canadian youth who are losing opportunities due to foreign youth being invited to be a part of our leagues and education system.
 
Well, I am extremely glad that Yakupov attempted to lie his way out of the “dirty” Canadians situation because it shows us even more about his selfish, proud character—he’s one of those “sneaky” people like Radulov. The Oilers got what they deserved by foolishly keeping the #1 pick and choosing a Russian, and especially in the face of a lockout. Yakupov could stay in Russia and “pull a Radulov!” As I stated in a previous article (title given at end of this article), the Oilers should have traded a player or two along with the #1 pick in the 2012 draft in exchange for a proven or exceptionally talented goalie or defenseman. I would have traded for goalie Robin Lehner who the Senators have grossly abused. Lehner will be another Lundqvist if he is given a fair opportunity. Well, let us hope that Yakupov stays in Russia and continues to play in the KHL—forever!
 
Did the Oilers really get the best in choosing Yakupov? Well, in the World Junior Championship, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has nine points thus far while Yakupov has only three points!

UPDATE:  Nugent-Hopkins finished the tournament with 6 GP, 4 G and 11 A for 15 points, and was plus-6; while, Yapokov played one more game, 7 GP and had 3 G and 5 A for 8 points, and was only plus-2.

Despite Nugent’s performance thus far in the Junior Championship, the Oilers also made a mistake in taking him over Landeskog in the 2011 Entry Draft. Landeskog was 25 pounds heavier, had a great year before the draft, and the Oilers needed a bigger man rather than yet another smaller forward. Nugent-Hopkins has a very slight body frame and it was no surprise that he was injured last year for an extended period of time. I predict that he will have an injury-riddled career, but I truly hope that I am wrong and that he can stay healthy and be a good contributor to the Oiler team. 
 
Speaking of the Oilers draft mistakes, as I have declared to people many times, they should have gone for top-ranked goalie John Gibson in the 2011 entry draft—and he was still available for their third pick at the beginning the of second round (Oilers chose Nugent-Hopkins and then had a second pick later in the first round and chose defenseman Oscar Klefbom). Rather than taking Gibson as their third pick they went for another defenseman. John Gibson has played outstanding thus far in the World Junior Championship [UPDATE: Was the best goalie in the tournament] and he will be playing for the Ducks before long (who were smart enough to pick him early in the second round of that 2011 draft). Not taking Gibson was yet another obvious example of “dumb” Oiler management—Tambellini and Lowe! To read an in-depth discussion of the Oilers draft mistakes in the last few years, please see my article in the Oilers section entitled:  “Oiler’s Pick Yakupov 1st in Draft – Is it Another Mistake by Lowe and Tambellini? – Other Oiler 2012 Picks Analyzed” 
 
TJ Stanley