Brodie Merrill is the newest member of the Toronto Rock, and both he and his family couldn’t be happier.
Having grown up in Toronto as a Rock fan, this will help make the homecoming special.
“For me, having a young family and growing up in the Toronto area, on many levels, it’s a little surreal to get the chance,” says Merrill. “It’s a place for me that I always wanted to play for over the years and to have a chance at this point in my career is very special.”
Ultimately it was a desire to be close to his family that set the National Lacrosse League trade in motion.
“I talked to the ownership group in Philadelphia when the team was moved to Connecticut,” says Merrill. “I asked if there was any possibility to move to a team closer to home and specifically Toronto and I wasn’t sure how that was going to go.
“I felt lucky and fortunate that they were able to get something done.”
Merrill, along with a 2nd round pick in the 2015 NLL Draft, were exchanged for defenceman Craig England, Toronto’s 2nd round pick (17th overall) in the upcoming 2014 NLL Draft, Toronto’s 1st round pick in the 2015 NLL Draft and Toronto’s 2nd round pick in the 2016 NLL Draft.
Merrill and his wife have a two-year-old daughter, Sawyer, and come this February, the couple will welcome twins. The move to Toronto allows Merrill to be at home more frequently while also making it easier for his family to watch him play.
The move will lift a huge weight off the defenceman’s shoulders and allow him to focus solely on playing lacrosse and less on the burden of traveling.
The lacrosse part was always the easy part, it was the travel that really weighs on you over the course of the long season.
“I may have even traveled more than any other player in the NLL the last few years,” says Merrill. “The lacrosse part was always the easy part, it was the travel that really weighs on you over the course of the long season.”
Merrill may not be exaggerating when he says that. During his career, Merrill has played for Edmonton, Portland, and Philadelphia while living at home in Toronto. In fact, last season Merrill traveled close to 24,000 kilometres over the course of the four-month campaign.
As an added bonus, Merrill is excited about the opportunity to play alongside his brother Patrick.
“It’s great, we’ve each been able to break off and have our own careers and had some great teams and experiences throughout our careers, but I always hoped that we could play together at some point,” says Merrill. “The timing feels good and feels right; it will mean that much more for us.”
Despite being a move that will keep Merrill close to family, Rock General Manager Terry Sanderson believes the deal also helps bolster the Rock’s defence and brings more leadership to the team.
“For us, we wanted to get bigger on the back end and he certainly gives that to us,” says Sanderson. “He’s a very capable defender, grabs lots of loose balls, which has certainly been one of his strengths and there are some leadership qualities there.
“We feel you can never have enough of those.”
Over the course of his nine years in the National Lacrosse League, Merrill has amassed 123 goals to go along with 236 assists. He also scoops up nearly 12 loose balls per game.
Sanderson believes the trade will bring a spark to Merrill’s game as well as give him the opportunity to take the floor with former teammates.
“I think it’s going to rejuvenate his career just simply because he’s going to be five minutes away from our practice facility,” says Sanderson. “I do know he was excited and there’s some teammates he used to play junior and even minor lacrosse with that are on our club.”
The trade benefits both Merrill and the team, and Sanderson believes the move could launch Toronto into the upper echelon of the league. The Rock will find out how they stack up with the NLL’s best when they open their season in Rochester on Jan. 3rd.