Rush fits Merrill to a 'C'

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:00 PM ET

He’s one of the NLL’s top A-rated players, but Brodie Merrill is happy with his first ‘C’.

After five years in the league, the Edmonton Rush transition player received his first captaincy Friday at the Sutton Place Hotel.

“This is my first time in the NLL with a ‘C’ on my sweater,” Merrill said.

That’s not to say he hasn’t worn one before.

“Just growing up and playing junior lacrosse and college lacrosse I was captain, and this past summer for Team Canada I was also captain, so I’m kind of used to being in a leadership role,” said Merrill, who was an assistant captain in his first season with the Rush last year. “It’s a role that I’m comfortable in and looking forward to the challenge here in Edmonton.”

Re-signing Merrill was Rush general manager Derek Keenan’s top priority over the off-season.

“He’s just the consummate professional, no matter what the sport is,” Keenan said. “He just brings everything: he’s a great role model for younger guys, he’s obviously a competitor. It was a pretty easy choice for us, really.

“Ever since I’ve had him, he’s always been an assistant, so it was time to make him captain.”

But now that it’s official, it doesn’t exactly change anything for Merrill.

“Personally, I think the most effective way to lead is through example and that’s always what I’ve tried to do in the past,” said Merrill, who assumed an even bigger piece of the leadership pie last year when former captain Chris McElroy was out with injury. “Especially with Chris out for most of the year last year, he was obviously the leader off the floor, but we had to have some players step up and kind of fill that void.

“I felt comfortable in that role last year, there are certain expectations that come along with it.”

Merrill’s own expectations keep climbing no matter what’s on his jersey.

“Brod’s always a leader on and off the floor, a lot of guys respect how he plays,” said Rush forward Andy Secore. “He battles hard out there. He may not say the most, but what he does say, it means more to the guys.”

Keenan’s M.O. is always to gather a leadership group of six or seven players.

“They don’t necessarily all have to have a letter on their jersey to be in that group,” Keenan said.

Along with Merrill, forward Gavin Prout and transition player Jimmy Quinlan were named assistant captains Friday.

“Gavin is one of the top point producers in the history of the NLL and his performance throughout his career is something that has earned him a great deal of respect,” Keenan said. “Jimmy is a heart-and-soul type of guy who puts everything he has into every game.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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