Darnell Nurse crossed the line. He jumped a guy and laid a beating on him. He deserves to be suspended.
I am not advocating for players to jump other players or for violence that doesn’t stem from actually playing hockey. I never loved the two toughest guys on each team squaring off in a boxing match, but I do like fighting. I get out of my seat when a “real fight” occurs. I have taken some boxing and MMA lessons. All that being said I am very happy we have Nurse on our team, he reacted to seeing a teammate take what looked like a bad hit. He likely didn’t see a replay of what happened to a “heart and soul” guy like Matt Hendricks.
I have been pained by watching so many Oiler games the last few years, as we all have. But one of the most painful things has been seeing one Oiler surrounded by 3, 4, or 5 opposing players and the Oiler teammates standing way outside the scrum or simply chatting with the other team.
Seeing Regehr hitting Hemsky for years, other players like Bieksa, Burrows, Kesler, David Backes, Dustin Brown, Correy Perry and others constantly taking runs at Oilers young guys and rarely seeing anyone do anything about it–I am sure I screamed many times, “Someone do something! Wipe that stupid smirk off their face!”
I’m happy with the way the league has went. Instead of having “face punchers” or “Coke machines,” they’re being fazed out. Nurse can and, in the future, will be able to play substantial minutes. He needs to be answerable for his actions, and I don’t suspect this is an issue since his first fight in the league was against Milan Lucic.
With players like Hendricks, Maroon, Kassian, Gryba and Nurse playing the Oilers should be able to wipe those stupid smirks off the faces of the opposition. It’s been no secret that teams like LA, St. Louis, Anaheim, and others run Edmonton’s show because they beat them in the tough areas. As long as Nurse and his teammates don’t run from their actions, this is very welcome.
Don’t get me wrong, I love skill. As a huge fan of the draft, I want skill, skating, and hockey sense over size and aggression. But at the same time those factors aren’t irrelevant. I want to watch McDavid, Hall, Draisaitl and others dangle and dazzle, but I don’t want to watch David Backes punch them in the back of their heads and not have to answer for it. Nurse crossed the line. Polak was a victim, and I feel bad for him that he got jumped. Nurse was sending a message, and I am sure opponents took notice.