Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Why Is Darnell Nurse Still In the OHL?

Courtsey: Erie Times News
Darnell Nurse is a strong prospect for the Edmonton Oilers and currently plays defense in the OHL for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. I recently had an opportunity to take in a critical playoff game between them and the Erie Otters. If you talked to some experts and scouts, they'd probably tell you that Nurse had a few years to develop into the kind of player that they need. I've even heard a few hockey podcasts that suggest the Oilers should've called up Nurse for critical NHL experience and help them on the blueline. But the Greyhounds have also got the #1 offense in the league and I can understand if he either chose not to get called up to the majors or felt that he had a chance to do something special with his junior team. But it wasn't until a little bid later that I got clear evidence of just why Darnell Nurse isn't in the NHL.

While he was a dominant player out on the ice and a very vocal leader, Darnell Nurse seemed to have control of his emotions. His team was ahead early in the 3rd period with a 4-3 lead. Things had become really temperamental and many players were taking big hits. One Otters player had taken matters into his own hands and found an opportunity to submarine a Soo player in such a unique (and probably embarrassing) way that the Greyhounds teammate had been flipped into the air and rolled onto the ice a-la a pro wrestling maneuver "the back body drop".

It came upon team captain Darnell Nurse to render his own brand of justice. While the Otters player had been warned by the officials and other Soo teammates, Nurse bolted from his blueliner position and cross-checked the unsuspecting Otter player. It was clearly done in clear view of the referees. Nurse was then given a 2 minute penalty to which the Otters capitalized making the score 4-4. It was a huge momentum shift in the game. The Otters had found a surge goal-scoring run and even found a 5-4 lead.

Now, I had been sitting right behind the Soo bench. It had become apparent that Nurse had made a critical error and gave game four to the Otters. They could have had the series tied up to take game 5 back in Ontario, but instead the Otters were given the eventual 3-1 series lead. There was one more choice moment in time where Nurse wasn't as effective as he should have been. During a TV timeout, Nurse had chosen that moment to rally his fellow players. I watched his face yell and tried to read his lips. He threw out a few expletives. However, I doubted that his teammates even heard him. He was barely audible and no one on the bench even looked in his direction during that tirade. I couldn't tell you exactly what was said, but even if the players could hear him over the noisy EIA, they chose not to pay attention.

The Otters YouTube channel had captured all of the highlights if you'd like to watch them.
Now, I am not sure if this game could be keyed in to have exposed a character flaw or a moment. Nurse could have used more discretion on his part, but I would only wonder if things like this would eventually lead to criticisms of him not being mature enough for the NHL level.

What do you think? Will Nurse be an impact player for the Oilers in the future?
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