Perhaps it is a sign of our societal lack of patience. We need everything now, not later. Today. Not tomorrow. That includes an absolute verdict on every young hockey player within a year or two of his draft day. We label them early. We ask of a 19-year-old high draft pick who hasn’t cracked an NHL lineup, “What’s taking him so long?” Darnell Nurse turns 23 on Super Bowl Sunday. He’s six-foot-four, 221 pounds, and skates the puck out of the zone with long, loping strides that simply eat up the ice. He shoots it pretty well, plays plenty physical, and has a mean streak you can ask Toronto defenceman Roman Polak about someday. “I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was a third-pairing defenceman. A fringe guy,” Nurse said. “As a player, I laughed at that and used it as fuel. Used it as fire.” When it came to Nurse, we heard it all: He wasn’t going to have quick enough feet to defend well. He didn’t see the ice or read the play. And when he did skate the puck into the offensive zone, it was like his brain shut off and he didn’t know what to do from there. In winning gold at the 2015 world junior hockey championship, he had become Team Canada’s premier shutdown defenceman. Somehow we all forgot about that, and he had to prove it all over again once he made the jump to the NHL. And so he has.
Oilers’ Nurse a success story in a season with few of them
Sportsnet | Jan 31