Mercer 2022 Worlds

Dawson Mercer was expecting the phone call. His agent told him it was coming.

But that doesn’t mean when the phone rings and Rick Nash is on the other line, and you knew that he’d eventually be calling, that you don’t get just a little nervous.

It is, after all, Rick Nash, the revered Canadian hockey star and now the general manager of the Canadian 2024 World Championship team.

“He called and asked the question,” Mercer said, “Before that, my agent called and gave me a heads up (Nash) might call. I was happy to accept.”

Except in the days following the conclusion of the Devils season, his phone still hadn’t rung.

“I was expecting it because my agent already said it, but I was just wondering when it was going to happen,” he said, “Like, what day was it coming? We had just finished our season and I was waiting.”

The call did eventually come and Mercer was quick to jump at the opportunity.

“It’s always an honor,” Mercer beamed, “It’s just an honor to be part of it as players, and for them, they all played during their careers and they’re still sticking around it. It’s pretty cool.”


Friends to Foes

Mercer is already overseas with his Canadian teammates, which includes Devils teammate Nico Daws, as the team prepares to open the tournament on May 11 (the tournament opens on the 10th, but Canada does not play until the 11th).

“It's always an honor to represent (your country),” Mercer said. “You get to go over there and if you can win, it's such a great feeling. My first year (2022) we got a silver medal, so I would like to change that to a better result. But overall, I'm just like looking forward to it, it’s always a great experience and it's a trip out of it also.”

And then there’s always that added layer of teammates turned opponents. The Devils will have eight players represented and Mercer has his eye on one player in particular.

“Yeah, Siegs scored against us last time we were over there,” Mercer snickered, “He’s brought it up a few times. Sometimes I bring it up to him.

Canada and Switzerland will meet later in the tournament, on May 19, and that will be the first time Mercer and the Canadian team take on one of Mercer’s Devils teammates. Plenty of time to switch from friend mode to opponent mode.

“We’re all good buddies and you’re playing against them,” Mercer said, “but I like it like that. It’s cool, you’re in a tournament and everyone is going for the same reason, same purpose with the one mindset of winning. It’s obviously a different change from when you’re trying to win together and now you’re going over there and trying to win against each other. It’s a unique experience and I think all of us would like to have the upper hand.”


Family First

Right after the conclusion of the Devils season, Mercer stayed in New Jersey for a few days waiting for the call from Nash. Once the phone rang and he accepted, Mercer put into motion a whirlwind schedule to make sure that he got in some family time before the tournament.

"My brother came down to watch me in the playoffs last year," he began, "So, I'm heading up to (Quebec) see him play in the semis."

Riley, Dawson's younger brother, is a goaltender for the Drummondville Voltigeurs, who at the Dawson sat down for this conversation was in the midst of a semi-final series against the Victoriaville Tigres. 

"I want to catch a few games and watch him play and then I'll head off from there." Mercer stayed for the first three games of the semis, all victories for Riley's Voltigeurs, before he boarded a plane in Montreal with some of his Team Canada teammates to head overseas. 

It was a quick bit of family time before his big tournament begins. Mercer was joined by his parents watching his little brother, but he left them all behind when he hopped on a plane overseas. 

"I let (my parents) know, if everything goes well with Riley and his team, I wanted them to stay back and watch him."

So that is where his family will be while the quest begins for Mercer and his Canadian teammates hoping to win back-to-back gold medals, knowing full well, while his family is watching his brother play live, they, like the rest of Canada will have their eyes on Mercer and his teammates as well, just from afar. 

"Every time you pull on the sweater, it's a great feeling," Mercer said, "You grew up playing. Hockey is everything in Canada. So whenever you get to play for Canada is pretty special knowing everyone will be watching."