Edmonton Oilers' Nail Yakupov celebrates his game-tying goal against the Los Angeles Kings during third-period NHL hockey action in Edmonton on January 24, 2013.
Photograph by: Jason Franson, The Canadian Press
Imitation, of course, has long been considered the sincerest form of flattery.
As Picasso once is reported to have said: "Bad artists copy; great artists steal.''
And the inventor of the ice-long-knee-slide/ arm-pump/wild-delirium-celebration figures the kid absolutely Nail-ed it.
"I thought it was great,'' enthused Theoren Fleury. "He was having fun. He scored a big goal. He's happy. What's wrong with that? What's wrong with being happy? What's wrong with having fun?
"I actually didn't see the goal. I was at (son) Beaux's soccer practice. Once I got out, my phone started blowing up. I thought 'Whoa!" And sure enough, the game had just finished.
"I saw it later. Great goal. "And you know the connection, Edmonton-Calgary. Same building. It all kind of fed into it.''
The exultant post-game celebration by Oiler rookie Nail Yakupov on Thursday night against the L.A.
Kings immediately triggered warm memories of Fleury's famous rink-length dash after swiping the puck from Mark Messier in overtime and scoring on Grant Fuhr to send the bitter, brilliant first-round playoff series of '91 to a Game 7.
That moment has through the years gone down in folklore; remains among the cameo-keepsake images for an entire generation.
Thursday wasn't a playoff game, an elimination game, a game against your most bitter of rivals right in the hostile environment of their own barn. It didn't carry that kind of significance. Still, for a young Oilers team to have one goal unfairly chalked off just seconds before, then to tie it up at the death, showed an amazing amount of self-belief, of resilience.
Going on to win in OT on Sam Gagner's goal made the night even better.
This being 2013 and not 1991, Yakupov's yippee went viral almost immediately following the game-tying tee-ball strike with 4.7 seconds left in regulation. Immediately, everyone had an opinion on its relative merits.
Here, the consensus was positive. Even the current Calgary Flame voted Most Likely To Pound Nail in similar circumstances, Cory Sarich didn't see anything untoward or disrespectful.
"He's excited to be scoring a goal. I guess that's how you've got to be playing this game. You've got to be energized. You gotta enjoy what you're doing.
"If (the Kings) don't like it, too bad. If you don't like it, don't allow him to score. I've seen a lot of celebrations in this league, and if they're worked up about that one ...
"I've seen guys bouncing off the glass, I've seen guys riding sticks.
Look at Vinny Prospal. Every goal he scores, he's like that: As if he'd never scored a goal before in his life. And it'd drive other teams crazy. "Look at soccer. Look at some of the football celebrations over the years. This wasn't pre-planned. It was spontaneous. Personally, I don't care. If a guy's coming to the bench and making a scene, that'd rile guys up. But he wasn't offending anybody.''
When asked if he'd whip up his own trademark celebration under similar circumstances, Sarich, the scorer of 20 career snipes, smiled indulgently.
"I don't get much chance to celebrate goals.''
The Yakupov dash has everyone talking. A sampling of other Flame reaction the day after:
? Matt Stajan: "I skated with him in the summer.
He celebrated like that after a goal in three-on-three shinny hockey, so it doesn't surprise me. I think it's good for the game. He brings excitement. That's just his personality. He likes to score."
? Mikael Backlund: "I don't know if I would've skated through my teammates. He has a lot of passion in his game. If that what he likes to do, that's up to him. It was a nice goal. At the same time, you've got to be careful doing stuff like that ... skating through your teammates. I can see why he did it - a young guy, a lot of emotions, his second goal of his NHL career in his third game - but you have to be careful doing things like that."
? Mark Giordano: "It wouldn't have been my first choice for a celebration, but it's exciting and it doesn't hurt anyone. It doesn't hurt the game, it only helps the game. Fans like seeing that stuff.''
? Dennis Wideman: "I don't think he was showing anybody up. He didn't do anything like taunting their bench or pointing at their bench or pointing at the goalie.''
Naturally, if Yakupov replicates the feat this evening at the Scotia-bank Saddledome with the Flames still in search of their first victory of the season, feelings on its appropriateness might alter slightly.
But most people, sanely, chose to savour the raw emotion, the almost childlike wonder, of the moment.
And to the those who viewed it different, as disrespectful and out of order, the 1991 inventor of the ice-long-knee-slide/arm-pump/ wild-delirium-celebration has a friendly word of advice: Lighten up, already!
"I guess,'' scoffed Theoren Fleury, "it's kind of the world we live in, right? Everybody wants to be PO'ed about something. So (Thursday) I guess they chose to be PO'ed at Nail.
"Guys like myself and (Jeremy) Roenick, who've left the game ... there's none of that character, that flair, left.
"I'm sure your job's a little more redundant, sorting through the same old cliches every day. The game needs more personalties, especially coming out of a lockout.
"You've got personality? Show it. He's obviously got personality.
"So what he did, I think it's great.''
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