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Yakupov keeps Canada-Russia analysis tame after controversial remarks

Dec 30, 2012, 3:41 PM EDT

Source: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images North America Getty Images

Nail Yakupov added some more fuel to the Canada-Russia hockey rivalry when he reportedly claimed on Monday that the Canadians “play dirty.” Some, like Don Cherry took exception to those remarks and Team Russia subsequently announced that Yakupov wouldn’t be addressing the media again until today.

Meanwhile, Russia and Canada have both won their first three contests of the 2013 World Junior Championship and will battle each other for the top spot in Group B on Monday.

So, as we approach that game and after nearly a week of silence, what does Yakupov have to say about the upcoming match? Nothing that’s likely to draw much criticism.

“Everyone’s going to be watching this match. It’ll be interesting and fun,” Yakupov said, according to R-Sport. “I think the whole world will be watching this match.”

Yakupov added that Russia will “play calmly” in the key contest.

And as for his original remarks?

“I said a different thing,” Yakupov said, according to the Edmonton Journal. When asked to tell the media what he actually did say, he added, “I forgot. I don’t know.”

He’ll be playing against his future Edmonton Oilers teammate and fellow first-overall draft pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on Monday. Nugent-Hopkins leads the tournament with eight points in three games while Yakupov has a goal and three assists in three contests with Russia.

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