Rush captain's return is in doubt

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:39 PM ET

Heís been with the Edmonton Rush through all the thick and thin.

And up until now, it's been pretty thin.

Since Day 1, Chris McElroy has been a part of the franchise that has struggled through its first four years in the National Lacrosse League. And now that theyíre finally in the thick of the playoff hunt for the first time in their existence, the Rush find themselves without the services of their captain.

Injuries and health concerns have sidelined the 28-year-old transition player, who has been forced to watch the team for most of its banner year.

ďTo be honest, I havenít been 100% all season. Right now, my return is definitely uncertain,Ē said McElroy, who hasnít suited up since a Feb. 12 loss in Toronto. ďIím having a lot of neuromuscular issues in my right leg and they donít know the cause.Ē

It has led to muscle atrophy and weakness on his right side, which makes him susceptible to injuring a joint that isnít being supported properly.

ďI had back and ankle surgery in the off-season, so Iíve been injured before,Ē McElroy said. ďBut this is the first time that Iíve been injured and I feel like things are out of my control.Ē

Both in his own body and out on the lacrosse floor with the team.

ďItís extremely frustrating to watch, but I think youíve just got to stay positive and really focus on what the teamís trying to accomplish right now,Ē he said. ďThatís still a big positive for me and something I take pride in, that the teamís doing well this year and I just continue to contribute any way I can.Ē

That includes practising and travelling with the team, as well as getting involved in the community with programs like Wednesdayís Rush Spring Lacrosse Camp with local youngsters and a visit to the Stollery Childrenís Hospital planned for Thursday morning.

ďIím definitely still a part of things, but itís frustrating not to be able to contribute on the floor because sometimes you canít be the player or leader youíd like to be,Ē he said. ďBefore where you could maybe just lead by example, itís tough to do that so youíve got to be a little more vocal in some aspects.

ďI continue to focus on a lot of the stuff that we do off the floor in the community, which is important to me and this team. Youíve just got to look at different ways to contribute. The attitude that I approach the situation Iím in reflects on the team: Stay positive, work hard and good things happen.Ē

Itís a message that isnít lost on his teammates.

ďItís tough. We obviously care a lot about Mac personally and he brings a lot in terms of leadership and energy and passion,Ē said Rush assistant captain Brodie Merrill. ďThis is my first year playing with him and Iíve got a lot of respect for how heís handled the situation. Heís still around the boys and he still has a great presence around our locker-room and is still a very big part of this team despite the injuries.

ďHeís put so much into this team from the beginning and cares so much about this organization.Ē

The Rush will host the Washington Stealth on Friday at 7 p.m. before travelling to play in Minnesota on Saturday night.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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