Merrick Thomson still aims to play for Canada, “Missing the NLL season has been tough thus far and it hurts to not be playing with my teammates in Philadelphia”
From Team Canada Press Release
It has been a long road back for pro lacrosse star Merrick Thomson.
He’ll play again. He’s just not sure exactly when that’ll be.
The 26-year-old native of Hamilton hasn’t appeared in a game since being named most valuable player of the Major Lacrosse League playoffs while helping the Toronto Nationals win the 2009 pro field title.
A high hit during MLL play forced him to sit once the pro indoor National Lacrosse League season began in January and the Philadelphia Wings have missed him. Thomson was one of the NLL’s leading goal scorers last year with 39 and the Wings sure could use that kind of offensive thrust now.
Thomson is on the mend, and setting goals keeps him on a path that will see him back in uniform. David Huntley, head coach of the Wings and of the Canadian team for the 2010 world field championships in Manchester, England, in July, is confident enough in Thomson’s return to top form that Thomson is included on the final roster just posted by Team Canada general manager Johnny Mouradian.
The full roster with home towns accompanies this release.
“It’s a really big accomplishment in my lacrosse career,” Thomson says of his inclusion. “There is no greater honour than to represent your country, especially after watching the Olympics and seeing all the Canadian athletes perform and win. It makes me want to hear the Canadian anthem in England.
“Missing the NLL season has been tough thus far and it hurts to not be playing with my teammates in Philadelphia. This injury does require rest and I have done that and I am now in the process of healing fully due to several key people most notably my trainers, my acupuncturist and osteopath.’”
Huntley will be the first to applaud when Thomson pulls the pads back on.
“Merrick is doing everything he can to get back on the field,” says Huntley. “There is no time line or expected date for a return. It is a slow process and he is handling it in an exemplary manner.”
Dean French, the executive director of the national men’s team, can relate to what Thomson has been going through because he also suffered a head injury, his from a cycling mishap, that involved a lengthy recovery process.
“Far too many athletes rushed back into competition following a head injury,” says French. “Having gone through post-concussion syndrome myself, I reached out to Merrick during our selection camp and told him that it would take more courage to stay off the field than to go back on too early. I know not playing has been tough on Merrick but having a knowledgeable and progressive coach like Dave Huntley helps in the healing process, which takes more time than people think.”
John Grant, Dan Dawson, Brodie Merrill, Geoff Snider, Gavin Prout, Shawn Williams, Mark Steenhuis and Jordan Hall are among the established pro stars who will push the ball up the field and attack for Canada in Manchester.
Second-year pro Rhys Duch and impressive NLL rookies Garrett Billings, Zack Greer and Kevin Huntley provide young legs in a dynamic offence. Ryan McClelland, a midfielder who is playing in the NCAA at Colgate, also made the team.
Kevin Huntley, who plays for the NLL’s Wings, is the coach’s son.
“I love playing for my dad,” he says. “I pretty much have my whole life. He knows how to get me going if I’m down, and he really knows his stuff so it’s easy to make mid-game adjustments when he points out mistakes that are being made. It’s an added bit of pressure on myself sometimes because I hate letting him down.”
He’s willing to take on any role he’s asked to play.
“It is a great honour to be selected to the team,” he says. “I can’t wait for a chance to compete for gold. I am extremely excited about the opportunity that lies ahead. Competing for a world championship while having the chance to play with a great group of guys is going to be something I will never forget.
“I’m not expecting to come in and take a spot in the starting lineup over a guy like (John Grant) Junior. I am expecting to be able to work with him and all the other guys though to build a chemistry that will be special and that will give us a chance to win. I’ll let the coaches and natural flow of what our offence seems to take on to see where I fit in. Versatility will be key and I think our team is full of versatile players.”
Playing for Canada’s under-19 team was a “pretty deep experience” and whetted his appetite for his next foray onto the international scene.
“It gives you an immense amount of pride and motivation to do everything in your power to represent your country to the best of your ability,” he says. “Those feelings will only be elevated (in Manchester) as it will be a bigger stage with more on the line.”The foremost boxla writer, Tutka is a former NLL scout and a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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