Some may have been surprised to see Darnell Nurse skating with the team Friday morning.
The Oilers defenceman took a puck to the throat in the Oilers win over Vancouver on Wednesday. He left the game and did not return, taken to the hospital as a precaution and to determine the extent of the damage. And yet, there he was taking his normal rotation with Adam Pardy as the Oilers skated in Leduc.
“He worked hard. He didn’t show any indication of suffering from anything,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “The doctors have, from what I understand, cleared him so if he’s ready to play, we’ll play him. He is a tough customer and I think that’s part of what makes him an attractive player. That’s a real good characteristic to have.”
Nurse’s throat was swollen after the incident and his voice was a little raspier than normal on Friday, but he looked ready to play when the Oilers wrap up the season on Saturday in Vancouver.
Nurse is just happy he wasn’t seriously injured, as taking a puck to the upper body, face and neck area is no laughing matter.
“It is scary because you feel like you could eat your Adam’s apple,” said Nurse. “You get hit in areas like that and it’s kind of scary. You just want to make sure you can breathe and, obviously, the medical staff we have with the team and the medical staff at the hospital helped me out a lot. I’m lucky. It could have been a lot worse than it was and I’m fortunate to come out just a little swollen with a couple of vocal cords messed up.”
Wednesday night saw 160+ Oilers alumni and current Oilers staff and players recognized and join in on the Farewell Rexall Place celebrations.
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan was one such individual that was greeted by a roaring — almost deafening — applause when he stepped out onto the carpeted runway that lead to his spot that was positioned around centre ice.
“I was a [small] piece of that ceremony and that’s just the way you look at it,” he said. “It’s never about me, it’s never about the coaches and in fact it’s not even about this year’s team. That night, that was about the building in the past. I was lucky enough to be part of it. I am truly honoured to be an Oiler.”
Though McLellan said he didn’t necessarily notice the difference between the applause for one member versus another, he was certainly one to experience the intense passion the fans exhibited throughout the building.
“It was a goosebumps moment because of the building and the people that were around me,” he said. “And the fans showing their appreciation, I sat in that chair and I looked around, I tried to find an empty seat and you couldn’t. And I think that speaks volumes of the fans. It’s as much about them as it is about the 150-200 coaches and players that were out on the ice.
Oilers forward Benoit Pouliot joined his teammates on the ice in Leduc, Friday, after a month-long hiatus due to a shoulder injury he sustained.
“He’s not playing, he won’t play in Vancouver so his year is basically over,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound winger, who injured his shoulder in a game against the New York Islanders on February 28, wanted to enjoy one last skate with his team before the end of the season.
“He wanted to get back on the skates and see what it was like to handle the puck and shoot it a little bit with his injury,” said McLellan. “Obviously, he has improved to the point where he could do that but he’s certainly not ready to play.”
Oilers forward Taylor Hall confirmed today that he will join Team Canada for the 2016 IIHF World Championship in Russia this May.
“It should be fun, I heard it’s a great city,” Hall said. “I had so much fun playing last year and it was a really good finish to the year that was disappointing team-wise. But I went over there and had a lot of success on the team and we won Gold and had just kind of made hockey what hockey is when you’re winning and you’re having fun like that, [I’m] so hoping for that same feeling this time.”
Last year, Team Canada made it all the way to the gold medal game, cruising to a 6-1 victory over Russia. In 10 games, Hall record seven goals and five assists for 12 points in the tournament.
It’s likely Hall will reunite with some familiar faces that graced the Canada team last year, something that he says he looks forward to.
“That’s one the best parts is seeing different guys,” he said. “Learning from different players, getting to know different coaches and different systems and obviously showing yourself to hockey Canada.”
The best way to relive all of the events and videos from Wednesday night's historic final game at Rexall Place as well as take a look back at the storied history of the building is to visit our Farewell Rexall Place page at edmontonoilers.com.
You can also view the panoramic image of the buliding at anthem time. If you were at the game, try and find yourself!
The Oilers have hit the ice for their final practice of the 2015-16 season, at Leduc Recreation Centre.
Darnell Nurse, who left Wednesday night’s game after taking a puck to the throat, is on the ice with the team. Benoit Pouliot, who has been out with a shoulder injury since March 1, is on the ice as well.
As @TheChrisWescott mentioned Darnell Nurse is on the ice and Benoit Pouliot is out there as well. Suffered shoulder injury Feb. 28th— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) April 8, 2016
The bottom six rotated through the first drills, but the top six have been as follows:
Per Bob Stauffer, the bottom six is likely as follows:
Gazdic-Lander-Cracknell are also skating.
“First of all I just want to thank everyone for a wonderful night,” said Oilers alumnus Wayne Gretzky.
As one of 160+ Oilers alumni, The Great One was all smiles as he took in the sight of a full Rexall Place bowl.
With too many memories to count, Gretzky was focused on living in the moment and saying farewell to an arena he called his home for 10 seasons.
“[Thank you to] The Oilers and all the players that came back and of course all the fans. Mark [Messier] and I were talking earlier — I don’t think there’s any other city where the fans would still be sitting here, I wish we could get out and play for them but we can’t do that anymore.”
“The Edmonton Oilers have won the Stanley Cup!” Iconic words said by Hockey Night in Canada Announcer Bob Cole.
The man responsible for announcing the Oilers first-ever Stanley Cup win, Cole was present at the Farewell Rexall Ceremony to share in festivities.
“I kind of fell in love with this group, these young Oilers, in ’83,” he said. “When they got all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in Long Island, it was a dynasty for the Islanders, and [the Oilers] lost in four games. I remember walking out with Wayne and Glenn and Paul and all the guys and everybody was just in silence, they were just bruised and tired and worn out.”
Cole witnessed (and announced) the Oilers heartbreak Cup loss but ever more exhilarating win the following year in 1984.
“I really fell in love with this team,” he said. “And we got together again the next year and they won their first Stanley Cup, the first of four that were won here (the fifth was won in Boston), in this old building that we’re saying goodbye to.”
Oilers alumnus Rusty Patenaude made his mark as the first Oiler to score 100 goals in an Oilers jersey.
“I just feel very fortunate being a part of this organization,” he said. “It’s been a classy organization… and I can see nothing but great things for the Oilers and their new building and I’m just proud to be part of them.”
The “Original Oiler” played four seasons with Edmonton in the World Hockey Association and said he’ll never forget his time spent in Oil Country.
“Edmonton was a home that felt like a home away from home. People just endorsed you and the fans were so passionate, they just make you feel like you were something every night.
Bill Ranford joined the Oilers in 1987 after he was traded from the Boston Bruins.
“I was living in Red Deer so I was a big Oilers fan so it was a huge honour for me,” he admits.
Needless to say, it’s a move the Oilers alumnus will never regret, having gone on to win two Stanley Cups with the team and make a lifetime of memories.
“It was a little overwhelming for me with the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier and the legendary Grant Fuhr, it was a real honour for me,” he said. “I was excited about it and I spent 10 years here and this is a big family here. This is an incredible night and the fans here I can’t thank them enough.”