Superstar sighting

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

Hold up a second with those superlatives.

Moments after Edmonton Rush head coach Derek Keenan compared Brodie Merrill's impact in the National Lacrosse League to dominant players in other sports, Merrill respectfully disagreed.

"In the lacrosse world, he's like a Michael Jordan or a Wayne Gretzky," said Keenan. "Brodie's the kind of guy that if you ask him to shut down the best player on the other team, he'll do that. He'll score goals at both ends of the floor and, in transition, play a mean, physical game.

"He'll do whatever it takes to have success. He'll show up in camp in November in better shape than anybody else, he'll work harder than anybody else on the floor, which just raises the level of everybody else on the floor."

Merrill, in Edmonton helping out with a summer lacrosse camp, sees himself in a different light.

"I wouldn't go that far," Merrill said. "Those are two pretty distinguished athletes. That kind of pressure I really thrive on. It's really an honour to be recognized like that. It's not something I really dwell on.

"I compare myself more as an offensive defenceman."

Think along the lines of Bobby Orr or Steve Nash, a guy who's not above dishing off the ball.

"Edmonton's a franchise I've kept a close eye on," said Merrill. "Every time we've played here, I'm amazed at the level of support. I know they haven't had the success they wanted on the floor, but I know the city's really embraced the game."

Keenan, a second cousin of unemployed NHL head coach Mike Keenan, has a long history with Merrill dating back to 2006.

That was Keenan's first year as head coach with the expansion Portland LumberJax, and Merrill was the first overall draft pick in the National Lacrosse League.

Keenan was named coach of the year and Merrill both rookie of the year and defensive player of the year.

Days after he was named the Rush head coach/ general manager, Keenan picked Merrill No. 1 in the NLL Dispersal Draft after Portland ceased operations.

"Through the analysis I did of this team, the one thing that needed to be addressed was the transition game, both on offence and defence," said Keenan. "Brodie will bring that. We had an opportunity to make the team better instantly. We haven't had that calibre of player here.

"Superstars will make other players better."

Merrill was named Transition Player of the Year and started in the NLL all-star game in 2009.

"There's two ways you can look at it," said Merrill, about coming to a struggling franchise. "It's a big opportunity and a challenge to turn things around here. It's exciting. The potential is very high."

QUICK HITS: The Rush rounded out their coaching staff, naming Lacrosse Hall of Famer and former referee Todd Lorenz as an offensive coach and Jeremy Tallevi a defensive coach ... Keenan swung a deal yesterday for another former Portland player, forward Derek Malawsky. The Rush gave up veteran forward Dan Teat, a 13-year NLL veteran who led the team in scoring last season.


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