EDMONTON - No hard feelings.
When former Edmonton Rush captain Chris McElroy returns to Rexall Place Friday to face his former team for the first time since being released, he won’t be thinking about revenge.
After all, the Washington Stealth defender spent the past five years pouring his heart and soul into the Rush since joining the franchise on Day 1.
“I’m looking forward to coming back and playing in Edmonton,” said McElroy, who was sidelined for most of the 2010 season due to neurological issues arising from back surgery. “Last year, I didn’t get a home game due to my injuries, so I haven’t played a game in Edmonton since 2009.
“So I’m definitely looking forward to being back on the floor and playing some lacrosse.”
An ankle injury that also required surgery only compounded his problems last year, as McElroy made a graceful, if not emotional, departure from the Rush in September.
Three months later, he was picked up by the defending NLL champions in Everett, Wash.
“I had a lot of good times and good friends in Edmonton and there is definitely no ill-will or revenge on my mind,” McElroy said. “I’m focusing on coming in with the Stealth and trying to get a couple huge wins for the team.
“I just look at it as an exciting, new opportunity. I’m happy where I’m at now and how things have worked out. For me, I’m really happy being back playing lacrosse.”
As difficult as it was to leave Edmonton, McElroy said he couldn’t have chosen a better player to replace him as Rush captain than Brodie Merrill.
“Chris and I were really close last year,” said Merrill, who is in his second year with the Rush. “He was a great example as captain last year and I learned from him. It was really sad to see him go, but I know he’s in a good spot now and healthy again.
“He’s a fierce competitor so I’m sure he’s anxious to get back and play against his old team.”
The two still keep in touch, despite wearing different-coloured jerseys.
“You couldn’t ask for a better guy to step into the shoes,” McElroy said of wearing the ‘C’ for the Rush. “He’s one of the best players and leaders in the sport. I have no doubt in my mind that in time they’re going to turn things around under him.”
And under head coach and general manager Derek Keenan, who said the decision to release McElroy was best for the team at the time, but that didn’t make it any less difficult.
“We tried to get him somewhere else, but sometimes that doesn’t always work out,” said Keenan. “He’s a quality guy, real good character guy and I’ll tell you, when we let him go there was one thing I said to him, that I’d be cheering for him to land somewhere and do well.
“He’s doing that and it’s great to see because he was a great leader for the Rush for many years and it will be great to see him on Friday.”