Marco Rossi settled some nerves on Wednesday. After the first practice during the Minnesota Wild’s rookie showcase this week, he was able to speak freely to the media about his traumatic and stressful year.
Overcoming a heart condition caused by his COVID-19 diagnosis and going through the experience of not even being able to exercise in the slightest as he recovered, Rossi made it known that he is feeling even better than before.
“It was scary,” Rossi said. “You hear the doctors saying, ‘We don’t know if you’re ever going to reach your goal or ever be like you were before.’
“At the beginning, I was thinking too much about my heart. The first time the doctor told me, ‘You’re fine,’ I didn’t realize it. It was like, ‘OK, now I can really go 100 percent again?’ It was really weird for me because when I go hard and maybe feel something a little bit, then I was just scared right away. You’re thinking so much. I had a really good team around me and a lot of good doctors.
“At the beginning, like every five days, I did some medical testing just for my mental part that I know, ‘OK. I’m clear. I’m 100 percent recovered from that.’ I think mentally that was really important.”
The youngster missed the entirety of his 2020-21 season due to those complications and symptoms, a crucial post-draft season just washed completely away from his development. But Rossi is more determined than ever to really make his mark during this week-long rookie camp and then at the Big Boy training camp later.
“My goal is to make the NHL,” the Austrian rookie said. “I know how good I am. I know I can make it. I would say I have to prove myself. You have to earn that spot. It’s really hard. But first I’m focusing on my rookie camp. We have two games ahead of us. Not thinking too far ahead of me. Just thinking about this week, day by day, and to give my best every day.”
It would be a normal path for a top-10 draft pick to eventually make the NHL roster after one season since being drafted, but it’s not normal to attempt to play hockey in the middle of a pandemic and then sit on the sidelines for months with a life-threatening heart condition.
All we can hope is that Rossi is fully ready for big-league action and can continue his love of the game.
“When I was injured, like, my passion is hockey. To play hockey,” Rossi said. “And when I play hockey, that’s my passion. I love to play hockey. So when it’s such a long time, when you play hockey again, you realize how much you love this sport. So especially right now, when I’m out there, I appreciate it more, because I’m just thankful I can play hockey again.”