Darnell Nurse: “I’d play in front of no fans in a heartbeat”

Just as his teammates did before him, Darnell Nurse jumped on a conference call yesterday to talk a little bit about how he’s staying in shape during quarantine, his teammates, and what’s to come for the NHL.


One of the first questions all of these guys have been asked during these conference calls is how they’re keeping themselves in shape while in quarantine and Darnell Nurse described that he hasn’t had much trouble keeping busy.

“You find different ways to exercise when you’re in this type of environment. Whether it’s running or the dumbells I’ve got in the back yard.”

But with no gym, there’s no doubt that you have to get creative, right?

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“I love working out so you take the game away or a gym away, I’ll still find a way to do it one way or another. I do a lot of work now so there have been challenges, but the backyard becomes your friend, power block weights become your friend and a couple runs with the dog so we’re working on cardio, me and (dog) Arya.”

Can we all agree that there is nobody living a better life right now than the dogs of the world? These handsome/beautiful good boys and girls are keeping a lot of us sane right now, and clearly, Darnell Nurse’s pup is no different. Thanks for keeping the big man in shape, Arya.


For a lot of us fans, having the end of the season get suspended so unexpectedly has been a tough pill to swallow given how good the team was doing and that’s no different for Darnell.

“Yeah, you think about it, you think about every game not just the one at the end of the year and I know what point we could have been at this date, but when they have the virus it puts a big reality check for you as a player and as a human being.”

As much as it sucks to lose sports, it’s impossible to ignore the bigger picture when it comes to this pandemic and Nurse wrapped up his answer to the question by stating the obvious.

“You’re worried about just keeping everyone safe so there’s a lot of thoughts that obviously you know what it would have been like to play that last game, where we would have been at this point but at the same token, you can just look around and see the world now in this.”

Not much else to add here aside from wishing continued health for all of the Nurses out there, both literally and in namesake.

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Darnell Nurse was given an alternate captain’s letter on his jersey this season, and when asked about growing into a bigger leader for this team he said that it comes with experience.

“It’s become bigger and bigger. The biggest thing when you talk leadership roles, and I’ve always believed this, you have to walk before you can talk. You can’t say anything if you’re not doing your job on the ice.”

I mean, I get that. Unless you’re some superstar like Connor McDavid, and even with him it seems unlikely, you can’t exactly stroll into the dressing room and start calling players out, right? You have to get some at-bats in first, and you have to learn what it takes to be that guy.

“As my game has grown, I’ve had more confidence to be a more vocal leader, a guy trying to bring life when it’s needed, try to bring a message when it’s needed.”

You know, as fans we hear about lockerroom dynamics so often that I’d love to know how this plays out for you guys. I’d love to know which players say what and when, and which guys need to have a leadership group pulling them along. BBC should make a Planet Earth-style behind the scenes on you guys. Like Oil Change but not filled with horrible memories and Steve Tambellini.

“We have a great mix of guys who’ve been around the league for a while, and some of the top players in the league who bring it each and every day. It’s been fun for me to take some stuff away from guys as well as become more vocal.”

You’re a big dude too, so I imagine when you get fired up that it draws attention from your teammates.

“I’m just trying to help out where I can.”


I’ll never forget watching the last game against the Jets and having news come through during the first period that the NBA had suspended play, and I knew then that the NHL wouldn’t be far behind.

“It’s hard for (the NBA) to shut down and for us to justify being out there on the ice and putting our fans in the same environment.”

Not only that, you boys share so many arenas with the NBA that it would have been basically impossible to keep everyone safe while playing. To me, there was no other available decision but to suspend the league, and I was actually happy to see the NHL follow basketball’s lead. That said, just because it was the right choice doesn’t make it any easier.

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“It was a tough night, tough day because you’re so invested at that point as you’re playing every day. You’re kind of just in autopilot and all of the sudden, no. Someone turns your car off. It was very weird.”

Tell me about. We were gearing up for what was supposed to be one of the greatest springs in our company’s history only to have our legs chopped out from under us. That all said, if we’re going to look for positives in this impossible situation it has to be that we will all feel more connected than ever before despite not being able to interact as we always have. I know that I will certainly never take a night out with the Nation/friends/family for granted ever again after being cooped up in my house for the last month.

Taking a Closer Look at Carter Savoie


If the NHL season is safely able to resume, Nurse hopes to be playing in front of Oilers fans that are always endlessly loyal, but he also admitted he’s willing to play anywhere.

“It’s kind of conflicting because as players, this is our job, all we want to do is play. I’d play in front of no fans in a heartbeat if someone told me we could keep playing. But at the same time, we have a very loyal fanbase who comes out and supports us each and every night, who’s been hungry for us to be in this position that we’ve been in for a long time. You want to reward them by being able to play in front of them and that’s kind of the conflict.”

To be honest, and I’m curious to know what other people think, I wouldn’t even care if the NHL resumed its season to an empty arena without fans watching. I would just be so excited to have hockey back to give me a little piece of normal life again. Sure, it would be weird to watch the games without the crowd reactions, but you have to think it would mean so much to so many people regardless of whether or not anyone was there. Yeah, it’s certainly unlikely and it feels like there’s only a 0.5% chance the league is able to come back but that doesn’t mean I won’t still keep my hopes up.

“At a time like this, there’s so much uncertainty. We’re a team, everyone’s working together so you got to take into account everyone’s situation, not just one guy’s situation or your own personal situation. You have to think of everyone’s. That’ll come into play when that decision is made, but there’s still a lot of factors being discussed.”

Dare to dream, Darryl. Dare to dream. Be safe, sir.

The Edmonton Oilers really thought they were going to land Jacob Markstrom

The full conference call comes in at 12 minutes in length, so there’s a bunch of stuff that I didn’t transcribe but is differently worth listening to. Listen to Nurse’s full call here.