Oilers forward Nail Yakupov (centre) celebrates with teammates Eric Belanger (left), Taylor Hall (second left) and Justin Schultz after scoring against the Kings at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Jan. 24, 2013. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/Reuters)
CALGARY - Nail Yakupov needn’t make any apologies for a celebration that will go down in Edmonton Oilers history.
After all, what he and the Oilers were in the midst of doing Thursday will be looked back on as a significant turning point in franchise history.
And that deserves plenty of revelry given how low the Oilers had sunk the last handful of years.
Tying the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings with 4.7 seconds left, Yakupov’s half-rink knee slide a la Theo Fleury mirrored the youthful exuberance of a team most hockey fans won’t be able to take their eyes off of this year and likely years to come.
In a city bursting with excitement over a team they’ve waited patiently to rebuild, the jubilation demonstrated by the 19-year-old Russian was pure and reflective of the jollification in the crowd at Rexall Place.
As some of the best and most loyal fans in sport, they deserve as much.
Yes, it sure would’ve seemed a bit silly had they lost in o