Grant, Doyle, Merrill Named to Team Canada
from press release
John Grant Jr., Colin Doyle and Brodie Merrill are the first three players named to Canada's team for the 2011 world indoor lacrosse tournament.
Grant and Doyle are two of the most prolific scorers in the sport, while Merrill is regarded as the best in the world at transitioning the ball from defence to attack, and all three have extensive experience representing Canada in its national summer sport.
Canada won the first two world indoor tournaments, in Ontario in 2003 and in Nova Scotia in 2007, and will be aiming to repeat when the championship is decided in the Czech capital of Prague, May 21-28.
''Grant and Doyle are the top two lefties in the game,'' assistant Team Canada general manager Brad Banister said in making the announcement in Calgary, where he is owner-general manager of the National Lacrosse League's Calgary Roughnecks. ''They've done amazing things. Not only are they the best at their positions, they're the most enjoyable to watch.
''Merrill, with his size, athleticism and speed, is considered by many to be the poster boy for Canadian lacrosse. He's the best transition player on the planet and is an outstanding role model. All three are logical picks. They'll wear the jersey with pride.''
Head coach Ed Comeau of Hamilton has been on coaching staffs of NLL teams and of previous national teams on which Grant, Doyle and Merrill played so is well aware of their importance on the roster.
''These are excellent veteran players who have won championships and have been leaders on their teams,'' says Comeau. ''We want them to bring their leadership skills to help the entire team over the course of the world tournament.
''In an event of such short duration, the leadership we get from within is critical to allow the team to keep focused on the goal.''
Grant, 36, of Peterborough, Ont., played on the golden 2003 and 2007 teams so after adding his four world field tournament appearances will be wearing Canada's colours at the senior world level for the seventh time.
''Anytime you represent your country it's an honour and a thrill,'' he says. ''Representing Canada in the sport I absolutely love and dedicate my life to is exhilarating, and taking indoor lacrosse to an area of the world where it hasn't been established very long makes the whole idea of the 2011 tournament very exciting. It'll be an added bonus to go to Eastern Europe and help grow the game.''
Grant was NLL scoring champion and regular-season and playoff MVP in 2007 when he led the Rochester Knighthawks to the NLL championship. He missed the 2009 season after surgery to remove a knee infection but returned last winter to amass 83 points (39-44) for the 'Hawks in 15 regular-season games. He was named top attacker in the tournament in helping Canada win world field lacrosse silver last July. He begins a new phase of his lacrosse career when he suits up with the Colorado Mammoth in the 2011 NLL season.
Doyle, 33, from Kitchener, Ont., will be making his fourth appearance for Canada at the senior world level having played on the golden 2006 field team and on the 2003 and 2007 victorious indoor teams.
''In 2006, that was truly a remarkable experience especially being up against the U.S. when we weren't expected to win,'' Doyle recalls. ''In 2007, we were favoured but barely won. They're all unique and I'm sure this one will be, too. It won't be a cakewalk. Just as we've been getting better at the field game, the Americans have been getting better at the indoor game, and the Iroquois are always very competitive.''
Like Grant, he's never been to the Czech Republic.
''We're taking indoor lacrosse to a global market for the first time in my life, which is something I'd never have imagined to be possible not so long ago,'' says Doyle. ''Showcasing the world's best indoor lacrosse to a new market is going to be neat.''
Doyle, captain of Toronto's NLL team, was title game MVP three of the five times he helped the Rock win it all. He was 2005 NLL scoring champion and MVP.
Merrill, 29, of Orangeville, Ont., will be participating in his fourth senior world tournament. He was a teammate of Doyle and Grant on the 2006 field and 2007 indoor sides and shared the 2010 field experience with Grant. They've also been teammates with the Toronto Nationals on the Major Lacrosse League field circuit.
''You feel a great deal of pride anytime you get the opportunity to wear the Team Canada jersey,'' says Merrill. ''The 2006 and the 2007 tournaments were very memorable and very rewarding. I really enjoyed getting to know the other players and learning what makes them successful.''
He's never been to Prague either.
''It should be a neat experience,'' he says. ''In box lacrosse, there are three nations that lead the way _ us, the Americans and the Iroquois _ and this will be a great opportunity to spread the sport in a place where it's growing.''
Merrill was named NLL transition player of the year each of the last two years with the Edmonton Rush.
What'll it take to win in Prague?
''We have a tremendous depth of talent,'' says Merrill. ''We'll need to find the right mix of guys, guys who'll be willing to take on specific roles and to play unselfishly. It'll be important to gell quickly.''
Executive director Dean French, a Toronto businessman originally from Peterborough, and GM Johnny Mouradian, the native of St. Catharines, Ont., who is GM of the NLL's Philadelphia Wings, are continuing the selection process in consultation with assistant GMs Banister and Dr. Don Hedges and the coaching staff.