ROSTER REBOOT: Darnell Nurse
The Oilers blueliner took an extended stay in Europe following his second stint at the IIHF World Championship and is working to improve on his career year this off-seasonby Jamie Umbach / EdmontonOilers.com
EdmontonOilers.com is checking in with Oilers players and prospects in our Roster Reboot series as they discuss their summer activities and gear up for the 2019-20 season.
EDMONTON, AB - When in Rome during your off-season, do as the Romans do.
Attending the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia this past May was a good enough reason for Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse to start his summer overseas in Italy after tacking a month onto his 2018-19 season in order to represent Canada for the second year in a row.
"It's always a fun experience to go there and play for Canada," Nurse said to EdmontonOilers.com. "We had a great group of guys, a great coaching staff, and it's a lot of fun to be a part of each and every time you have the opportunity to be there."
The 24-year-old scored twice and added two helpers in 10 games, earning a silver medal with Canada following a career year in the NHL where he notched double-digit goals (10) and 31 assists in all 82 games with the Oilers, before allowing himself to take a big helping of rest & relaxation.
"I got to go to Florence and Rome for two days each and meet up with a couple of my buddies from Hamilton and just spend four days in Italy. It was so much fun. I've never eaten that much food in my life and definitely plan on going back."
Video: AUDIO | Darnell Nurse Interview 07.26.19
When not in his hometown of Hamilton, Nurse works off the ice in Toronto to build off an explosive season with Strength & Conditioning Coach Matt Nichols and an extended group of NHLers that includes Jared McCann, Tyler Seguin, and Devante Smith-Pelly.
"There's been a lot of growth every year," Nurse said. "Obviously Matt keeps pushing us to our limits. For me, I want to continue to be an explosive player and be someone who can get up and down the ice fast in effective ways. As well with on-ice work, I've been working with Adam Oates, so kind of continuing to build off some of the things that have helped me grow my game so far and help take my game to another level."
The NHL off-season has also allowed him the opportunity to be more of a mega-fan than usual for his sister Kia, a guard for the New York Liberty, after she was voted in as a starter for the WNBA All-Star Game that tips off in Las Vegas on July 27.
"She called the night before it was announced and told us she was going to be a starter on the WNBA All-Star Team and it was a proud family moment," Nurse said. "Everyone's looking forward to the game and spending some family time together. We're going to Las Vegas to celebrate and watch the game, so it will be a lot of fun and she'll be heavily supported by our family."
The excitement of the off-season stretches into Edmonton for Nurse with the influx of talent, new management, and a fresh coaching staff for the Oilers to begin the upcoming 2019-20 NHL season that will complement an already-established core of players whose chemistry grows each year.
"Obviously when you have someone at the top in [Oilers Pres. Of Hockey Ops and GM] Ken Holland who has seen all different facets within an organization - whether it's an older, established veteran team or a team that's evolving - he's seen basically everything. For us that's a huge advantage.
"We're really looking forward to the opportunity we have coming back to camp next year with a lot of familiar faces as our relationships continue to grow. We continue to build that brotherhood amongst each other."