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Monday, March 31, 2014

Devils' Jonathan Merrill takes puck to the face; considered day-to-day

By on 3/31/2014 11:00:00 AM

If New Jersey Devils' defenseman Jon Merrill doesn't do something to protect his face, the handsome rookie is going to end up looking like Chuck Wepner.

Known as "The Bayonne Bleeder", the New Jersey native and Sylvester Stallone's inspiration for his character in the classic "Rocky" film series, Wepner was known for blocking his opponent's punches with his face, in one fight against Sonny Liston taking so much punishment that it took 72 stitches to stop the leaking - and Merrill is earning the same reputation, only on the ice.

In his NHL debut in early November, Merrill was on the ice for just 1:16 against the Minnesota Wild before he stumbled and slid face-first into the dashers, earning a concussion and several stitches in his face, prompting fellow blue liner Andy Greene to lament, "I saw him between periods and he had quite a few stitches and whatnot, but hopefully he's all right, Hopefully, he gets another go of it. You don't want it to be your first NHL game."

Well, he got another go of it and actually went 46 games between incidents, but on Saturday night the 22-year-old deflected a Travis Hamonic drive with just over seven minutes left in the Devils' overtime loss to the New York Islanders, the puck riding up and striking Merrill right in the mug.

Merrill was able to skate off the ice, but left a trail of blood as he departed, taking several stitches from the team's cut man.  A team spokesman issued a statement that Merrill was scheduled to see a doctor and a dentist and that his condition would be updated after the consultations and treatment.


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