World junior championship: Nail Yakupov says ‘dirty’ comment lost in translation

UFA, Russia — After evading the media since the start of the tournament, Russian captain Nail Yakupov, finally broke his silence and spoke to reporters.

Before he started, however, Russian press attaché Mikhail Zislis, said the first-overall pick of the Edmonton Oilers would only answer three questions from reporters.

The first question was in regards to comments he allegedly made to a Russian website before the start of the tournament.

“I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations,” Yakupov was quoted as saying by R-Sport. “Especially against the Canadians. These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in North America, so our team is ready."

On Sunday however, Yakupov, backed away from the comments saying he had never said anything of the sort.

“I said a different thing,” said the former Sarnia Sting forward in English. He was asked to clarify what he had said about the Canadian team.

“I forgot,” he said. “I don’t know.”

It was then that Zislis jumped in to explain apparently what Yakupov couldn’t.

“They can play dirty,” said Zislis. “Everybody can play dirty.” Yakupov then switched to Russian and used Zislis as his translator.

“The sense was lost during the translation,” said Yakupov. “There’s no sense right now to explain what happened two weeks ago. So I don’t want to comment, just ask me questions about (Monday’s) game.”

When asked why he hasn’t been made available to speak before now to the media – they have been excuses every day as to why the Russian captain has been a no-show – Yakupov was blunt.

“Because (Zislis) said.”

“He wants to concentrate on hockey,” said Zislis. “Last question.”

Team Canada will face the Russians on Monday in the final game of the round robin. Both teams are undefeated at 3-0 with the victor winning Pool B.

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