Darnell Nurse may be in some trouble for an incident that occurred in Tuesday’s game against the San Jose Sharks. He’s scheduled to have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Thursday.
In the third period, Sharks defenseman Roman Polak appeared to trip Oilers forward Matt Hendricks during a race for the puck. The result was a violent crash into the boards that left Hendricks dazed and on the ice. Polak was assessed a two-minute minor for interference on the play and the Oilers were incensed.
However, the replay clearly showed that Polak’s protests were valid. He wasn’t the cause of Hendricks’s crash. Hendricks fell of his own accord.
That didn’t stop Nurse from coming after Polak as soon as Polak came out of the box. Nurse shot the puck toward Polak, who was going for change, and then started to fight him. Polak was bloodied in the altercation.
Polak, who never removed his gloves or threw a punch, was assessed a five-minute fight major.
Nurse was assessed a two-minute roughing penalty on top of his fighting major, but was not given an instigator penalty. If he had, that would carry an automatic one-game suspension for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of a game.
In the league’s announcement, they cite rule 46.2 (Aggressor) as the reason for the hearing. Under that rule a player may deemed to be an Aggressor if their opponent “is in a defenseless position” or “is an unwilling combatant.” A player who has “won the fight” but “continues throwing and landing punches in a further attempt to inflict punishment and/or injury on his opponent” is also necessarily labeled an aggressor.
A couple of these could apply to Nurse in this situation.
The rule continues, “A player who is deemed to be both the instigator and aggressor of an altercation shall be assessed an instigating minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, a ten-minute misconduct (instigator) and a game misconduct penalty (aggressor).”
Though Nurse wasn’t given an instigator, he most certainly was and that the league is bringing him in as an aggressor may mean that he’s guaranteed to see some games on the shelf in the coming days.
Edmonton's Darnell Nurse will have a hearing tomorrow under Rule 46.2 (Aggressor) for an altercation with San Jose's Roman Polak.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 9, 2016
Here’s the play in question:
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.