Draft Memories: Rocco Grimaldi

The 2014 NHL Entry Draft will take place on June 27-28 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. SARampage.com takes a look back at previous drafts as players recall their memories from the year they were drafted. The series continues with forward Rocco Grimaldi, who just signed an entry-level contract with the Panthers. Check out previous installments of the draft memories series with Colby Robak and Garrett Wilson.
Position: Forward
Drated: Second round (#33 overall) of the Florida Panthers in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
What’s your most vivid memory from the draft?
I think it’s all the people that came for me. My draft year was in Minnesota and I have special ties to that state – I won a roller hockey championship at the XCEL Energy Center in 2002 so it was special to be there. I had people from California, from Oregon, Michigan and all over who came in to support me and that was the greatest thing was to have the people there who have been there through the thick and the thin and watched my career and watched me grow as a person and a player – that they would spend money and come out and support me was incredible and shows what kind of friends and family I have and the great support system I have.
Were you expecting Florida to take you or have any idea they were interested?
No, I had no idea. I was one of the guys who was sitting there without a clue. I had heard I could go in the first round or the third round or anywhere in between. I had no idea where I was going and different teams told me different things. I was just sitting there waiting and then I finally got my name called. I was excited but it was also a relief that I didn’t have to sit there any longer. It was exciting and being able to go down to the table and meet everyone and see the great personnel they have in the organization that have been in pro hockey for a long time and done a lot of great things for the sport. I was just excited to work alongside those guys.
What was it like to hear your name called?
It was kind of weird. I had a couple of my teammates drafted in the first round before me and every time they would say “from the national team” I would wonder if it was me. Finally after a few times, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my name and I figured I might sit there until the seventh round and wait. Eventually it was my name, and I was more shocked than anything. It was kind of surreal – like did I hear that right? Is that me?
What was the atmosphere like at the XCEL Energy Center?
It was great – they have one of the best arenas I’ve ever been to. It’s just a gorgeous facility. It was a pretty full house and cool to see how the draft works after seeing it on TV for years – seeing how things work and how excited people get.
Where is your draft jersey now?
Hanging in my dad’s man cave. It’s between my Team USA jerseys so he has a good collection there.
Did you get a lot of phone calls and texts from friends and family congratulating you after you were drafted?
I can’t even tell you how many text messages and Facebook and phone calls I had – it was ridiculous. Even something as simple as a congrats – it just went a long way because you remember who said something to you and that’s special to see people I’ve played with or went to school or gone to church with. It’s just great to see all the relationships I’ve built with all the different places I’ve lived and growing up in and seeing all the great friends I’ve been blessed to have. It was a really special time and it’s really cool looking back at that and reflecting on the things I’ve had to go through to get to this point and all the people I have had to back me up through it all.

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