Some clarity for Nurse

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

NHL 16….


Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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!

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

  • Young Oil

    Honestly, I’m not really sure how I feel about this incident.

    Let’s say the tables were turned, and Nurse tripped Marleau in a dangerous position, causing him to go hard into the boards, and leave the game.

    Nurse serves his penalty, heads to the bench, and then Polak comes over and starts pounding on him before he could even get his gloves off, leaving Nurse bloody and bewildered.

    We’d be irate, calling Polak every name in the book.

    As a result, I wouldn’t be quick to commend Nurse for his actions. It was with good intentions, but it was by no means a clean play.

    The Philadelphia game a few games ago was great for having a push-back and having players defend eachother in a respectable manner. What Nurse did was far from that, especially at that stage in the game.

    If what Nurse did makes the team play more like they did in Philly every night, great. But to me, the more likely outcome out of this is the refs being very harsh on Nurse in the rest of the season, and the Sharks going headhunting in the next meeting.

    At least they don’t have Torres anymore.

    • Rob...

      You are aware that Hendricks fought 3 times (twice during the initial game and once during the followup) after hitting Ekblad with what was perceived to be a dirty hit? THIS was also outside of the code, which suggests you have to fight once to remove the ‘hurt feelings’. The third fight was against a monster 3 weight classes greater than Hendricks’ own. Yet the media thought it was glorious.

      So… it has happened in reverse.

  • giddy

    Problem is I can’t find any replay of it from a decent enough angle to really show what happened in the moments before the fight. From watching the behind the Shark’s net angle, it looks to me like Polak either punched/pushed Nurse with his left arm, but at that very same time Polak starts with that motion Nurse’s gloves go flying yet Polak’s stay on. Polak then throws a punch with his right hand.

    After that, Nurse just proceeds to beat Polak like he owed him money. Looked like Nurse caught him with a big one right off the bat and Polak couldn’t recover and just got pummeled afterwards.

    I don’t know, it’s tough to say. Polak isn’t some small innocent guy (6′ and 235, has played 8 years in the NHL) but I get why he wouldn’t want to drop gloves (winning 3-0 in the 3rd, no point for Polak), but why square up, grab him and throw a punch if you aren’t going to tilly? Nurse deserves a game suspension but this really wasn’t dirty nor did he jump him by any means…

  • abmule

    Darnell has now stepped up as the man who will throw knuckles on the oilers. Last time the jets were in town and big buff made eberle his b(*ch all the oilers did was watch. Now Nurse has to answer that call and the call of all the other true heavy weights in the league. I don’t envy him being a rookie and light heavy weight at best. Great heart but is putting the cross hairs on himself the best thing for the club? …….looking at you Kassian for an answer.

  • oilers1168

    Well put Jason. We need one more player with the intestinal fortitude and aggression like Darnell. Hockey is a violent sport and you need to be able to dish out some fear into your opposition and for your skill players to feel safe.

    We can’t count on the ref or the league to protect us during the game. Darnell is the police on the ice.

  • Gordon Bombay

    Why is any oiler fan complaining that one of our players beat someone up or might get suspended??? Who gives a fack about polak? Bout time an oiler did something other then get pushed around, beat up or skate to the bench with there head down and tail between there legs. Hint hint 4 and 14, don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.

    Make it happen Pete at this point I don’t care how or for who. Sick of sitting at rexall watching these losers

    Signed tier 1 fan

  • Hemmertime83

    Aww I missed the NHL tournament signup. I googled the hell out of it but couldnt find any information on it. 🙁 I guess Ill have to wait for next year. If anyone backs out Id pay double for the spot!

  • Tikkanese

    A) It sure looks like Polak’s stick hit Hendrick’s leg to me. Whether that was intentional or not, who knows, who cares. You are supposed to be in control of your stick.

    B) Nurse did not go looking for this fight, Polak skates directly to the head down Nurse, not the bench, Nurse had his head down while dumping in the puck. Why is Polak signaling a line change yet skates directly to the stationary Nurse instead of the bench door and grabs Nurse in the fighting stance before any punches were thrown? He was trying to look innocent while actually starting something is why. Polak is cheap like that.

    It’s just a bloody nose anyways, people get way bent out of shape over nothing.

  • 99 NOW 97

    You did what you thought was right and I have no issues with it. People tend to forget what ur beloved Kassian did to gagner. Its payback for 29 other teams too damn bad.

    clap clap for you Nurse.

  • Explicit

    I just hope that any disciplinary action (deserved or undeserved) against Nurse doesn’t change his attitude or mind frame towards his eagerness to stand up for his teammates. I hope he’s not only getting support but praise for his actions. We need more Darnell’s!!

  • Bloodsweatandoil

    Holy crap…..

    I would rather read posts from Yak lovers then read the dribble from the Purists who are feeling sorry for Polak and shaming Nurse.

    At least Yak lovers know hockey and know what it takes to be on a team and I respect them for that even though I hate Yak.

    • Explicit

      I hate you for hating Yak, but atleast we can join forces in hating the Polak sympathizers!

      But calling them purists is a disgrace to hockey purists the world over. Let’s call them ‘nancy’s’ because they sound like moms worried about their sweet boys getting a boo boo

  • 99 NOW 97

    Sometimes ,at least dad taught me , you need need to punch the bully first, and second if you are tough. May not have been by the code
    but damn it , this has happened to us over and over and over.

    No more. Beat us fine..intimidate us ? No more.

    You did well kid no matter what.

    • Bloodsweatandoil

      You hit the nail on the head! The keyword is “code”, in hockey and in life. Sticking up for yourself and others around you.

      Eventually you are going to have to stop having your lunch money and sometimes your bike taken away by someone else in the playground. If have earned the respect of your peers, nine times out of ten, you will get your money and bike back.

    • .

      “May not have been by the code . . .”

      Well then it’s not really a code then, is it? That’s the funny thing about codes, you live and play by them and when you don’t, well, you’ve got no code.

      You’ve only got rage guided by stupidity and that’s no way to go through life, son.

  • Harry2

    I just watched all of Nurse’s fights on youtube. This guy is an absolute gem. The Oilers have been waiting a decade for a dman like him.

    If you dont like the way Nurse plays the game you need to pick a new sport to watch. I hear good things about tennis.

  • OTOF2

    Too funny. Oil fans cried for years for getting “bullied”. Now that they have a few cheap shot artists on their roster they think that dirty play is awesome. Can’t win on the score board so might as well be happy about a Bertuzzi like jumping. This doesn’t make the oil tough, anyone can jump someone and get the edge if the other player isn’t participating in the fist throwing. I guess being known as the worst team in the league wasn’t enough, now they are a bunch of cheap shot cowards too. And disgracefully proud of it.

    • Just because Polak decided to turtle, doesn’t make what Nurse did cheap.

      How is this in any way comparable to Bertuzzi? LOL
      -Moore had his back to Bertuzzi
      -Polak skates right up to Nurse’s face

      Do you even watch hockey, bro?

      Polak shouldn’t have turtled, it would have saved him some pints of blood.

      The rule for instigating a fight is very clear: this is suspension worthy. I don’t think they’ll look at intent at all, despite the fact that we all agree that Nurse had a noble intention here. But instigating a fight late into a game is an automatic suspension.

      Y’know OTOF, as a Flames fan, aren’t you playing with napalm here? If there’s anything in the modern NHL comparable to the Bertuzzi incident, in where he attacked a player from behind, it’s the Wideman incident where he attacked an official from behind.

    • Mike Modano's Dog

      This is really to all who are saying a few things about this situation.

      1. Nurse never ‘jumped’ Roman Polak.

      Nurse waited for Polak at the bench, so Polak is skating straight towards him for about 2 seconds before they engage.

      (Bertuzzi skated BEHIND Moore, and ‘jumped’ him, and Moore didn’t see it coming. This is the opposite of that.)

      2. Nurse gave Polak every chance in the world to remove his gloves, despite cliams to the contrary.

      Nurse removed his gloves immediately, but he didn’t in fact throw a punch until giving Polak more than enough time to remove his gloves, engage and defend himself and punch back.

      3. Oilers are cheap shot artists now?

      No, Nurse was responding to a cheap shot. Meaning Hendrix was skating away from Polak towards the boards when he was taken down hard, causing injury in fact.

      4. Whether or not Polak made contact with Hendrix or not.

      I watched the San Jose feed and they never said their player did not cause Hendrix to crash into the boards. (They then actually applauded Nurse for stepping up for an injured teammate, and were in awe of him doing being able to do that at 21 years of age! I understand Remenda’s take of the situation has caused some Oilers fans to think Polak innocent…but that is open to interpretation.)

      My interpretation is that skating that fast and that hard is such an act of absolute precision that even the slightest of touches on the back of the skate blade while heading towards the boards and into your turn will make it physically (emphasis on the PHYSICS) impossible to be able to make that tight of a turn or stop afterwards. At that speed, and needing to make a perfect edge before the boards means you need to have both skates planted firmly on the ice, and under 100% complete control.

      That’s why Hendrix, after Polak swipes at his skates with his stick (for what other reason – he doesn’t have the puck) is unable to use his edges, because he didn’t have both skates firmly planted at the precise moment he needed to make the turn. I personally don’t feel it is very likely that Hendrix hit something on the ice at the precise moment Polak swung towards him, but much more likely that Polak’s actions which he took at that very instant, caused.

      (Players who have played a fairly high level of hockey and received the coaching have learned this lesson, and how the slightest of movements of a player’s skate, hips, etc can move a player against their will, even much larger than you, and helplessly. The trick here – and this is really the point…is they teach you NOT to use that when a player is in a vulnerable position – because if you do, it you will injure them most likely!)

      5. Surprisgly, I have heard Nurse shamed for getting a guy at the end of his shift.

      Roman Polak had just finished serving his penalty, and was just coming out of the box towards his bench immediately – so in fact he was perfectly rested.

      6. The comparison of John Scott and Jordan Eberle.

      John Scott is 260 lbs and Jordan Eberle is 181 lbs.

      Roman Polak is 236 lbs and an 8 year veteran, while Nurse is ‘generously listed’ at 213 lbs and in his rookie season.

      While I respect everyone’s views on the subject I just wanted to point out a few facts. The only thing that can be contested is whether Roman Polak actually made contact or caused Hendrix to fall. As well, the fact that Nurse did instigate the fight in the final 5 minutes of the game likely will earn him that one game suspension.

      ***The funniest thing I have heard yet came courtesy of Logan Couture after the game.

      “Nurse has the puck, shoots it at him, then drops his gloves and jumps him.” Funny how a story can take off! For those who didn’t watch the game Nurse shot the puck into the zone along the boards, while Polak skated towards the bench from centre ice. lol!!!

        • Mike Modano's Dog

          Where does it say Nurse ‘jumped’ Roman Polak?*

          *See comment 105 above.

          If you’re not a fan of the Oilers leave your opinions for your own team’s site. If you’re not a fan of an NHL team then take it to your local figure skating team’s site!

        • Mike Modano's Dog

          I can respect your point of view too, but this isn’t actually about that. I am a fan of any player on any team demanding justice, and policing themselves. Florida’s Eric Gudbranson I believe demanded Hendrix fight him after hitting Ekblad from behind. No problem with that.

          I actually think your views of the Oilers are affecting your take in this, to be honest. I will always like hard-hitting hockey, but really want the players to play with respect…and not do things that target players, especially the other team’s best players in an attempt to injure them. The things the players do on the ice to hold each other accountable I am in favour of.

          I know in the short term it may look bad, with blood streaming from one’s nose for instance…but in the long run I do believe it prevents more serious injuries. In a perfect world players would have that respect already and no need for it at all!

      • pkam

        “1. Nurse never ‘jumped’ Roman Polak”

        The NHL hearing decision just come out, go watch the video replay. If that is not jump, I don’t know what is.

        Being said that, I don’t understand why Max Domi only got one game for his jump and Nurse got 3. I can understand the one extra because Polak was injured so it should be 2. But 3? Seriously? Where is the consistency?

  • nbandito

    Polak isn’t exactly an angel and he’s not exactly a lightweight.
    The way I see it is that he has been in the league long enough to know that he shouldn’t have thrown his stick anywhere near Hendy’s legs while he has that velocity.

    This is hockey and if a rookie comes to challenge you after a marginal play you should oblige the kid and at least try to subdue him.

    Darnell popped him pretty good with a fist of karma.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    Why are people criticizing Nurse? That was the best part of the game last night. He never saw a replay of what looked like a dirty play in real time. Then Polak appeared to hit Nurse as he was racing to keep the puck in at the blueline. His team is on the verge of a shutout loss. Shoot first, ask questions later. Atta be Daryl! He can play for my team anytime.

  • Hawk E. Pashyn

    This has been one of the more entertaining comment sections for a while. The debate goes beyond the realm of hockey, even. This makes it very interesting, because I see points – or perspectives – from both sides as being legitimate in some cases. A bit of a dichotomy ;). But that’s all from my objective perspective. From my more direct, intentional perspective as a fan of my team and the game itself…

    Darnell Nurse is something of a polarizing figure, isn’t he? Makes me laugh about those ON’ers who were adding him as the throw-in for mega-deadline deals bringing a top d-man back. I wonder if they would still want to do that, now. Feel free to chime in, but I think I know the answer to that from the previous comments.

  • Andresito

    Great article Jason Gregor. I was wondering if you would consider doing a Blades of Steel tournament one day? On classic Nintendo Entertainment System. I love the hockey tournament idea but unfortunately some of us older guys (30) wouldn’t stand a chance versus these young kids in new nintendo games. Blades of Steel would be unreal!

  • Derzie

    The hunger for someone, anyone, to stand up for each other on this team has clouded judgement. When a guy turtles with his gloves on, the fight is done. Just like if he goes down on the ice, you stop. Nurse is a wild bully. He gets kudos here because he’s YOUR bully but make no mistake, he is one. And bullies have a limited set of outcomes to look forward to: a) the league punishes them, b) they meet a bigger bully and get taken out, c) they wise up and control the aggression. Watching Darnell’s dad cheer with a beer while his son pummels another human makes me think option c is out. Glad to see him get 3 games. Next time it will only be higher.

  • Rickk

    Nurse earned the suspension. The NHL is not roller derby where you can try to injure a non-combatant. I love when Darnell plays tough but this was stupid and unfair.

  • Rickk

    Nurse earned the suspension. The NHL is not roller derby where you can try to injure a non-combatant. I love when Darnell plays tough but this was stupid and unfair.

  • Gary Empey

    I used to like Darnell Nurse.

    The message he sent is he has no respect for hockey and doesn’t belong in the game. Nurse is a tough guy. There is no place in hockey for players to sucker punch other players.

    Now I will cheer anytime he or any of the oiler players get injured.

    @Jason Gregor you are an idiot for writing an article rationalizing his despicable behavior.

  • It’s really cute when Flames fans defend the actions of Wideman, a guy who’s ended the career of an official*, lamblast Nurse for instigating a fight in the last minutes of a game.

    In one situation you have a well known fighter and tough guy deciding not to fight back and getting beat up, contrasted to an on-ice official that was cross-checked from behind, with not only his NHL career being cut short, but perhaps his entire life being negatively affected by Wideman’s actions.

    The hypocrisy is damning.


  • vetinari

    Any future fisters should be legally required to bring their fists and meet Darnell Nurse at centre ice and see what happens… you will get a complementary doggie bag to take your teeth home with you.