July 30, 2012 - 5:54pm
BY MATT SLOVIN
Few current members of the Michigan hockey team have flirted publicly with the idea of departing for the NHL like rising junior defenseman Jon Merrill.
According to the Detroit News, Merrill has finally made up his mind to return to Michigan after he missed the first half of his sophomore season because of a suspension for violating team rules.
Merrill's NHL rights belong to the New Jersey Devils, who invited the defenseman to their summer prospects camp recently. There, he weighed his options, eventually deciding that he can benefit from another season on the Michigan blue line.
In April, Devils' vice president David Conte told The Michigan Daily that the organization was pleased with the education— both on and off the ice — that Merrill was receiving in Ann Arbor under coach Red Berenson. But the stove appeared to have heated up this summer. Merrill chose to end the discussion Monday by speaking to Berenson.
"(Merrill) talked with me (Monday) morning and indicated he'll be coming back," Berenson told the Detroit News on Monday. "He definitely had some dialogue with New Jersey. Jon realized he only played half of the season and he wants to be ready when he makes the move."
In 2011-12, Merrill racked up 11 points in the 19 games he played after the suspension.