Steady veteran Jon Merrill wants to help turn around Detroit Red Wings


For the past three seasons, Jon Merrill went to the Stanley Cup Finals and had two more playoff runs while playing with the Vegas Golden Knights expansion.

Winning quickly became part of the culture of the Vegas organization.

The Grand Blanc native signed with the Wings as an unreserved free agent last summer, and Merrill got what he was getting into – a Wings organization that rebuilt and closed a historically poor season.

The start of this season was only marginally better, which resulted in an adjustment for the experienced defender.

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“It’s frustrating to lose,” Merrill said after training in Nashville on Wednesday. “We are all competitive athletes. So it is never easy to lose, regardless of whether you came from a winning team or not. Nobody likes to lose.”

“It’s definitely something we want to get rid of and get things going in the right direction and round up some wins.”

Merrill, 29, signed a $ 925,000 one-year contract when General Manager Steve Yzerman tried to upgrade the Wings with quality veterans to accompany a younger squad.

Merrill, who played collegially in Michigan, loved the opportunity to return home.

So far, Merrill has proven to be a positive addition, proving to be a professional example of coach Jeff Blashill on and off the ice

Merrill missed six games on COVID-19 log but has two assists in eight games with a plus-2-plus-minus rating and a calm that every team needs.

“Jon Merrill is a great piece; He came in and did a really good job on our defense core, “said Blashill.” He’s a really calm person, and his calm helped our team. He has calm confidence and his game is solid. He’s the type of guy that, and it was almost a blow to him early on (in Merrill’s career), that he didn’t do anything great, but did everything pretty well.

“But that’s what you like from your defenders to do everything pretty well and he does that. He helps our penalty shootouts, power play, 5v5 in different roles, he’s there at the end of games because he’s a is a big guy who has poise and confidence with the puck and if he makes a mistake it doesn’t bother him and that’s an important lesson for the rest of our team. “

The 2-1 defeat in Florida on Tuesday was the third game in a row for the Wings in which they won a win that deserves a win – but due to lack of offensive they only won one of the three games.

Merrill believes the Wings are about to put it all together.

“We have to find a way to win some of these games,” said Merrill. “We did a good job (Tuesday), we had a chance to finish the game too late and we have to find a way to make it happen.

“If that happens once or twice, it will build our confidence. We are definitely not satisfied, but we are going in the right direction. Play right and we just have to hold on to the effort and the results will follow. “

The way the Wings have played defensively over the past week could be the formation of the identity of that line-up, Merrill said.

“We’re trying to figure out who we are as a group,” Merrill said. “We understand we don’t beat many teams in this league and we’ll win games 6-5 like you’re seeing some of the results. We have to be a team that has to win 3-2 or 2-1 so we have a great goal and this is where it starts and we know what to do to eliminate the chances we are giving up. and we did a good job.

“We are not satisfied with the results. We’re frustrated with the losses, but we’ll continue to build defensively and that’s something every good team is. The backbone of his identity is a solid defense, and that’s what we’re trying to build and improve on. “

Red wings in predators

Allusion: Thursday, 8 p.m., Bridgestone Arena, Nashville

TV / radio: Fox Sports Detroit-plus / 97.1 FM

Outlook: The Red Wings (3-9-2) and Nashville (5-8-0) open a two-game series. … The Predators are fighting, losing three games in a row and seven of their last 10th… Nashville is 22nd on power play and last on penalties. … LW Filip Forsberg (six goals, five assists) leads offensively.

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Twitter: @tkulfan


Dusty Kennedy