Suspended Nurse explains ‘overboard’ attack on Polak

With Darnell Nurse being suspended for three games, Doug MacLean and Nick Kypreos talk about the effect his actions could have for the Oilers- the good and the bad.

Logan Couture called it.

Darnell Nurse was suspended three games by the NHL’s department of player safety Thursday for aggressively instigating a fight with San Jose Sharks defenceman Roman Polak. The league handed out the ban under Rule 46.2, citing Nurse as an “aggressor.”

The Edmonton Oilers defenceman jumped Polak late during Edmonton’s 3-0 loss to the Sharks Tuesday night. The rookie blue-liner was trying to exact some revenge after Polak hit Oilers forward Matt Hendricks heavily into the boards.

“I’m a hard player, always have been. I like to go out and stick up for my teammates. It was probably a little overboard,” Nurse told reporters after receiving his punishment. “You’ve got to do it at the right times and in the right way. You always have to stick up for the guys you play with.”

Both Nurse and Polak were handed fighting majors, with Nurse picking up an extra minor penalty for roughing on the play. Watch the incident:

“He was trying to change and Nurse has the puck, shoots it at him, then drops his gloves and jumps him,” Sharks forward Couture said post-game. “Roman didn’t even have his gloves off. Our guy was already on the ice because Roman was coming off, and then Nurse starts punching him. Roman couldn’t even defend himself. It’s clearly an instigator, and I’m sure he’ll be suspended.”

Hendricks told reporters that he appreciated that Nurse stuck up for him, even though he believed Polak’s hit was not intentional.

“Darnell’s trying to make a name for himself at his level,” Hendricks said. “He’s a competitor and he wants to stick up for teammates. He’s a leader, and he’s been one at every level he’s played at, and he’s trying to bring that game to this level.”

Oilers coach Todd McLellan, too, approves of Nurse’s rough side.

“He’s big and he’s strong, and that’s an asset for him night in and night out, he uses that to his advantage,” McLellan told reporters Wednesday. “There’s other areas he needs to work on, but the ability to play a hard-checking game is in his toolbox.”

Based on his average annual salary, Nurse will forfeit $13,924.74. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

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