In today’s ultra reactive age of social media it is important to take a step back and analyze the facts of a situation sometimes.
After Darnell Nurse did his best Frank Costanza impression (“Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the
last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I
realized there had to be another way!”), many were upset he went after Roman Polak, despite Polak doing nothing wrong when Matt Hendricks crashed into the boards a few minutes earlier.
Here is where clarity comes in.
He wasn’t sitting at home watching the game. They did not show a replay over and over in the building. They didn’t show one replay of the Polak/Hendricks play.
Nurse watched one of his teammates crash into the boards, and came to the conclusion Polak was the reason. Which makes sense considering the referee, who was standing five feet from the incident, gave Polak an interference penalty. Nurse did not have the luxury of watching it on replay multiple times, or in super slow motion. Instead he saw the end result — Hendricks injured heading to the dressing room and Polak penalized for interference.
Two minutes later Nurse was standing at the blueline, when Polak came out of the penalty box and skated towards the Sharks bench. Nurse made a decision he was going to defend what he, and the officials, had deemed a cheap play.
Nurse made up his mind that Polak had delivered a cheap shot to one of the Oilers most honest players. He was unaware at the time that Hendricks lost his balance. I can understand why that type of hit would infuriate you more than a clean body check along the boards, or in the middle of ice.
He decided he would take matters into his own hands. Of course he should have been given an instigating penalty on the play, and he will likely be suspended one game for being the instigator in the final five minutes of the game. He knew the rule and didn’t care. He felt it was important to stand up for his teammate.
Teams have taken liberties against the Oilers for years and no one did anything. It was refreshing to see Nurse send a message. The replay has no bearing on the play, because the players in the game did not see it.
Would Nurse have reacted differently if he had seen the replay? I don’t know. I’d guess he probably would have, but that is only an assumption. He didn’t have the luxury of hindsight, and his natural instinct was to stand up for what looked like a cheap shot against a teammate.
I refuse to criticize him for it.
Nurse deserved an instigator and I expect him to be suspended for one game — I have no issue with that. The Oilers have had a league-wide reputation of being a soft team for years. Numerous opposing players have discussed how easy it was to play at Rexall. The Oilers need to shed that reputation, and there are multiple ways to do it.
They need to be more competitive. They need to win more games. They need more skilled size and strength in their lineup, and the additions of Nurse, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid have them going in the right direction.
McDavid and Draisaitl are highly skilled, but Draisaitl will be 220 pounds next season and McDavid will likely be 200 pounds. They can beat you with their skill, but they won’t be easy to push off the puck. The other three are big, skilled and mean.
The list of reasons why the Oilers have floundered near the bottom of the league the past few years is long, and one of them was they didn’t have any toughness or meanness among the players who played significant roles. That is changing.
Nurse is only 20 years young, but the kid has nuts the size of grapefruits. His first NHL fight was against 27 year-old behemoth Milan Lucic, one of the toughest players in the league, and Nurse held his own. He plays aggressive, and as he ages he’ll become even stronger.
He looks like a more skilled version of Jason Smith. Rugged, tough, loyal and mean — characteristics this team desperately needs. The Oilers have been the punching bag for far too long, and it is time they stood together. We’ve seen much more of team togetherness over the past few weeks, and it is long overdue.
We can all agree Nurse deserved an instigating penalty, but when you review the situation it is vital to realize Nurse reacted to what he saw in real time, he wasn’t privy to a replay.
We are hosting our 1st Annual NHL16 Charity Tournament on Saturday, April 9th at The Denizen Hall. We will have 100 players vying for the title and an awesome prize for being crowned champion.
A huge thank you to the Brick for stepping up and donating The Gamer’s Dream Room.
Game all day and all night in the Gamer’s Dream Room! You won’t to have to go far for a snack or beverage with a convenient mini-fridge and microwave nearby. You’ll never miss a second of the action on the Samsung curved TV,
the lifelike picture quality and improved viewing angles give you the
upper hand over your opponents! Fill your Gamer’s Dream Room with
enhanced sound from your Klipsch speakers, or keep gaming to yourself with your noise-isolating Monster headphone.
Recline in the ultimate comfort on the Zander power reclining sofa,
featuring cup holders, a fold down table, and in- arm storage to keep
extra accessories or snacks. Stay warm in the day or night with the built-in fireplace,
with space to store your impressive gaming collection, and stream audio
via Bluetooth with the integrated sound bar. You’ll be hosting your
next gamer convention from your basement with this Gamer’s Dream Room!
PWNing n00bs has never been so comfortable!
Also, a big thank you to the 100 players who paid the entry fee. It sold out in less than an hour. I was floored by the response, and I’m sorry many of you didn’t get in. We will definitely make this an annual event, and I already have plans in the works for a Madden tournament in the fall.
The tournament starts at 11 a.m. on the 9th. If we stay on time, we should watch the final just before puck drop on the Oilers season finale in Vancouver. Come down to the Denizen Hall and watch the tourney and the Oilers final game. It will be a great day, and it is more fun knowing we will raise over $8,000 for charity.
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