Practice Makes Perfect: Elvis Merzlikins Could Head Overseas This Fall to Train with HC Lugano

By Jacob Nitzberg on September 8, 2020 at 7:00 am
Feb 10, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (90) tosses the puck aside after making a save against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second period at Nationwide Arena.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are still occurring, but it's the Blue Jackets' offseason.

At least, for some Blue Jackets. 

"I have not planned to take a vacation, for me already staying at home during the quarantine was a kind of vacation," said Elvis Merzlikins in an interview with RSI Sport. 

"I have to talk to Ruby Belge, my athletic trainer, to see how to train now," continued Merzlikins. "I was thinking of coming to train with Lugano in October, but I still have to talk to Vicky (Mantegazza)." Montegazza is the president of HC Lugano.

Merzlikins knows Lugano quite well. He played for the U-17 team at first, then the U-20s, and finally the senior team, making 319 appearances for the club from 2009 to 2019. While he may train with Lugano, playing in actual games for them is off the table at the moment: "Some say that I will play in Europe until the season starts, for now that is absolutely not true," said Merzlikins.

As uncertainty swirls regarding the Blue Jackets' goaltending situation, Merzlikins is taking matters into his own hands. There's no guarantee that he and Joonas Korpisalo will both be on the roster, come the beginning of the 2020-21 season. As the Blue Jackets seek to improve their scoring, they may have to part ways with one of their talented goaltenders.

Forward Emil Bemstrom and goaltender Veini Vehviläinen have already decided to play overseas in Liiga, Finland's top professional hockey league. They likely won't be the last Blue Jackets to cross the ocean and keep their skills sharp.