Marco Rossi sees the end of the tunnel

Marco Rossi sees the end of the tunnel
Marco Rossi sees the end of the tunnel

Marco Rossi is the star of the Austrian team which faces Switzerland on Sunday evening in Prague at the World Championship. But the former Zurich Lions junior had to get back on track.

He’s not yet 23, but Marco Rossi has already experienced a lot in his life. Drafted in 9th position in 2020 by the Minnesota Wild, the Austrian forward had a brilliant career ahead of him. This season, he has scored 21 goals and 19 assists in 82 matches and can finally return to normality.

Normality, yes. Because it wasn’t that long ago that Rossi didn’t know if he was going to be able to pursue his dream of making it to the NHL. We have to go back to the end of 2020. In November of this cursed year, he caught covid. A few weeks later, he went to the U20 World Cup in Edmonton and developed a strange feeling. ‘I wasn’t myself,’ he confided to the Keystone-ATS agency.

After the tournament, Rossi returned to his NHL franchise in Minnesota. He passes various usual medical tests. He received a worrying call telling him that there was nothing more he could do and that he had to go to the hospital the next morning at 8 a.m. Nothing more. ‘I wondered what was going on,’ he explains.

Abnormal blood values

What was happening was he had ‘shocking’ blood values. His heart had doubled in size. ‘At that time, the predictions were bad,’ he remembers. One day, a doctor came to tell him that he had to have an operation that evening. ‘I asked for details and was told that my heart was going to be removed and that I would continue to be artificially revived.’

Rossi then called his father in tears. ‘It was just too much for me.’ He reassured him and other doctors were called. He was finally able to return home. The diagnosis was made: myocarditis. For five months, the young man could do nothing. ‘I was out of breath walking a few meters,’ he says. It was very hard for me.’ Suffice to say that the Austrian did not know if he would be able to play hockey again.

Positive point, he meets his girlfriend at that time. His medical situation is slowly improving. On January 6, 2022, Rossi made his NHL debut against Boston, but he only made two appearances with Minnesota that season, playing the rest of the time in the AHL with Iowa. ‘It was a difficult season,’ he said. At first, I slept three hours a day in the afternoon, I was so exhausted.’

Long days, little rest

The young man has been practicing these long days without rest since his youth. From 2014 to 2018, he was part of the Zurich Lions organization. Until his departure in 2018 for the OHL in Ottawa, his father drove him to Zurich every day after school. He learned his lessons on the road, barely seeing his mother and two sisters.

‘Nobody ever gave me a gift,’ he says. It made me tougher and stronger. Today this effort would be too much for me, but at that age I didn’t care.’

This period was even harder for his father Michael, himself a former player. The stress took a physical toll on him, his back hurt, he didn’t sleep well. ‘My family made a lot of sacrifices so that I could live my dream,’ admits Marco Rossi.

To train there in the summer with Philipp Kurashev, Marco Rossi knows Switzerland and its national team very well. ‘They are very, very strong, we know that,’ he concludes. If we believe in ourselves and just play, we can make it very difficult for them. But our first objective remains maintenance.’

/ATS

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