A second-round pick (No. 33) in 2011 of the Florida Panthers, forward Rocco Grimaldi started his Tuesday morning in a black sweater for the San Antonio Rampage, skating in their Cool School Day game against divisional rival Oklahoma City Barons.
He finished it wearing white and red.
Though the Rampage would go on to defeat the Barons 4-3 in shootout, Grimaldi was long gone before the six-round skills competition had even been a thought in anyone’s minds. He left the ice in the third period, presumably because of either an equipment or injury issue, but instead was hopping on a plane to Los Angeles, joining the Rampage’s parent club in time for their tilt against the Los Angeles Kings.
"It’s special, obviously," Grimaldi told NHL.com. "This is one of the ones in the calendar that I really wanted to play and I obviously didn’t expect it coming into this morning."
The AT&T Center, home of the Rampage, is 1,358 miles from the Kings’ ice inside STAPLES Center. The flight is just under three hours.
The 5-foot-6 center grew up in Rossmoor, Calif., just south of Los Angeles. He has yet to notch his first NHL point, though he made his NHL debut with the Panthers on Nov. 1. He has three goals and three assists in 13 games with San Antonio this season.