Nail Yakupov has been silenced.
That’s the word out of the World Junior Championships on Thursday as a Russian team official explained Yakupov wouldn’t be talking to reporters until Sunday, Dec. 30 — one day before Russia faces Canada in the final game of the group stage.
The gag order is likely a response to Yakupov’s comments from earlier this week.
In an interview with Russian media outlet R-Sport, the Oilers prospect called the Canadians “dirty” and said he and his Russian teammates would have to be prepared for their style of play.
“I understand that I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations. Especially against the Canadians,” Yakupov said. “These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in the North America, so our team is ready.”
That comment drew the ire of CBC Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry, who tweeted “Yakupov is just being honest as that’s how he feels about us,” and “what bugs me, he took a Canadian kids spot in the Canadian Hockey League.”
Prior to being selected first overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Yakupov spent two seasons playing for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League.
Russia won its opening game of the WJC with a 3-2 overtime decision over Slovakia. It will play the U.S. on Friday and Germany on Saturday before facing Team Canada on Monday, the 31st.