September 27, 2014
Wayne Merrick is one of the forgotten members of the New York Islanders' dynasty years. The quick defensive center was part of all four Islander Stanley Cup championships between 1980 and 1983.
Merrick centered the "Banana Line" with John Tonelli and Bob Nystrom on the wings - a line so dubbed because coach Al Arbour once said that line doesn't monkey around. Merrick dilligently worked hard and provided speed and smarts, though he let his wingers do the heavy work along the boards.
Merrick was originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues (9th overall in 1972). He was an offensive player out of the Ottawa 67s junior team, and put up decent numbers in 3 1/2 years in St. Louis before moving to the California Seals organization and, to his disappointment, moved with the organization to Cleveland in 1976. Merrick said joining the Seals/Barons organization was good for him as he got lots of ice time.
One of the areas he gained more ice time was on the penalty kill. The Islanders liked what they saw when scouting him. They traded J.P. Parise and Jean Potvin in exchange for a package highlighted by Merrick.
It was a decision that the Islanders would not regret. Merrick certainly never got nearly as much acclaim as Bryan Trottier or Butch Goring, the Islanders top two centers or Brent Sutter a little later, but he was a much appreciated member of a Stanley Cup dynasty.
He was never so appreciated as the night in 1981 when he scored the Stanley Cup winning goal: