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BLOG: Emotional Nurse reflects on first NHL camp

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

Darnell Nurse has never been cut from a hockey team before in his life.

That's why when an emotional and shocked rookie defenceman left the dressing room and spoke with a few media members, it showed the true character of the man that is Darnell Nurse.

"If anyone tells you it feels good to get cut, they're probably lying to you," said Nurse after receiving the news that his time in an Oilers uniform had come to an end, for now. "It sucks. There's nothing fun about it but (the Oilers) have the best plan for me and my development and I'm going to go back and dominate my league and hopefully I'll have the opportunity to play in World Juniors."

Edmonton made an announcement shortly following a 5-2 win against the New York Rangers tonight that Nurse was returning to Sault Set Marie of the OHL.

Nurse, the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, proved his doubters and even the Oilers coaching staff wrong.

Head Coach Dallas Eakins said earlier in camp that the rookie was making it hard on the team to move him down. He stayed in the conversation for a roster spot right to the end.

Knowing that he made the coaching staff consider keeping him longer than expected, the 18 year-old looks back on camp with no hesitation in saying he did what he could.

"I have no regrets on what I did out there on the ice. I gave everything I had. If anyone told you I'd be around this long, to this point, I think everyone would have laughed at you. I think that there was enough people that didn't think I'd make it to this point.

"I'm happy with the way I played. It's never fun to get cut, but you learn from it. It's not a great feeling but, like I said, it's the best plan for me and my development and years down the road I am sure I'll thank them."

Nurse is a motivated individual. He will not sulk or dwell on this situation for very long. He is ready to return to the OHL and dominate, eager to never let this happen again.

"I'm just going to go back and I have a team to lead. I know they're counting on me a lot. I am going to do everything I can for the team in Sault Ste Marie."

Nurse displayed physicality and an offensive presence that influenced the Oilers to take him early in the draft. Tonight against the Rangers, Nurse faked a shot from the wing, wrapped around the opponent's net and backhanded a beautiful centring pass for Jordan Eberle who scored on the play.

Against Vancouver last Wednesday, Nurse blocked a shot on a penalty kill and broke up a two-on-one chance by the Canucks which capped off an impressive effort by the rookie.

"I came in as prepared as I knew I was going to be. I think that I was really fuelled by the fact that so many people said that I wasn't good enough to keep up with this level. I think I proved a few people wrong over the course of this camp.

"I still have a lot of room to grow as a player. As well as, I'm maturing as a person too. This is not easy at all but for me, it's a learning experience. It sucks, but I'm going to be alright in the end."

Nurse may be down now, but the young defenceman figures to be a key piece to the Oilers future.

The Oilers also announced that Taylor Fedun, Tyler Pitlick and Anton Lander have all been assigned to the Oklahoma City Barons in the American Hockey League.

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