Coach’s Corner: Darnell Nurse can’t be fighting Oilers’ fights

Ron & Don talk about the Winter Classic in Boston and Canada’s performance at the World Juniors, plus their prediction for next year.

In the midst of another gruelling season for the Edmonton Oilers, Don Cherry is wondering why Darnell Nurse is the one physically standing up for his teammates.

Nurse, who fought Los Angeles Kings bruiser Milan Lucic on Dec. 29, is playing in his first NHL season. He has just the one fighting major in 2015-16.

“He’s only a teenager,” Cherry said. “He’s the only guy that steps up (for a fight). You can’t have a teenager going like that.

“Darnell Nurse, a Don Mills guy — I like him.”

Nurse, while 20 years old, is a mobile defenceman known more for his hockey skills than fisticuffs, though he has drawn attention for the physical aspects of his game in the past.

The Oilers' leader in fighting majors this season is forward Luke Gazdic with four while Matt Handricks has fought twice.

Before signing off, Cherry -- not wanting to sound too sour grapes-y -- spoke about the eliminated Canadian world junior team that lost 6-5 to Finland Saturday, mentioning other Canadians who were eligible to play in the international tournament.

Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sam Bennett, Robby Fabbri and Jared McCann were all of age, though they were or would have been kept by their respective NHL clubs rather than being released to play at the world juniors.

"So don't worry about it, folks," Cherry said, referring to the state of Canadian hockey.

"I guarantee you we'll win it next year."