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WORLDS: Nurse reinforces early start for Canada

The 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia doesn't begin until May 10 for Canada, but a pre-tournament camp in Vienna will help players prepare and foster relationships early

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - Darnell Nurse has donned the colours of his nation at the junior and senior levels on more than one occasion, and will do so once again later this month for Canada at the IIHF World Hockey Championship in Slovakia.

"For me, it's hard to say no to the opportunity to wear the Canadian crest and I'm really looking forward to it," Nurse, speaking to Inside Sports with Reid Wilkins on 630CHED, said Monday afternoon. "It was an experience last year that was a lot of fun to be a part of, but obviously we didn't get the result we really wanted. But at the same time, it was a lot of fun as a player to be a part of it.

"When they called this year, you think about it for a little bit. But I was definitely excited to have the opportunity and I'm excited to go."

Tweet from @EdmontonOilers: #Oilers d-man Darnell Nurse will be heading to Slovakia with @HC_Men for this year's #IIHFWorlds starting May 10! 🇨

A new change for Nurse and Canada this time around comes in the form of a pre-tournament training camp in Vienna that begins later this week before culminating in an exhibition against Austria on May 7. Canada finished fourth at last year's tournament in Denmark, and will chase its first gold medal since 2016. 

Nurse played alongside goaltender Matt Murray with the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL, then wore the maple leaf with former World Junior teammates Shea Theodore and Sam Reinhart.

For the Oilers defender and Hockey Canada, the camp gives players a chance to gel after a long NHL season on opposite benches.

"Obviously the tournament doesn't start until the 9th, but we have the opportunity to spend some time together before," Nurse said. "Between dinners, practices and whatnot, it's one of those experiences where you spend a lot of time together in a short period of time. But you definitely get a lot of connections and a lot of friendships right from the get-go."

Canada opens the World Championship on May 10 against Finland and will also face Denmark, Great Britain, France, Germany, the United States, and hosts Slovakia in the preliminary round. As each year and hockey in Europe progresses, the competitive level from each country continues to reach new heights.

"Every country seems to have great players nowadays," he continued. "I remember growing up and you watch these events and Germany wasn't a powerhouse, and now you see Leon being a difference maker every night. You look around and there's all these different teams that are really good, especially at the NHL level."

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