Ask Pavel Rosa if he’s leading the American Hockey League in scoring and he’ll politely say that he has no idea. You see, he stopped looking at stat sheets years ago, preferring instead to concentrate on the little things he needs to accomplish for his team to consistently win.
“I’ve always loved scoring goals and setting up guys for their goals,” said the soft-spoken Rosa, who has averaged more than a point per game in his two seasons in the Queen City. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about scoring. But unlike some players, I won’t look at the stat sheets until the end of the season. If I’m doing my job, the stats will be there when the season is over.”
When he finally does take a look at the stat sheets, Rosa will likely be pleased with what he sees. The 26-year-old native of Most, Czech Republic, has stayed near the top of the AHL scoring race for most of the season.
Rosa, selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round (50th overall) in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, is making a strong bid to return to the National Hockey League, where in 36 career regular season games with the Kings he has 18 points (5-13=18) and six penalty minutes. The 5-foot-11, 188-pound Rosa enjoyed a brief two-game call-up in mid-February, and he hasn’t given up his goal of becoming an NHL regular. Instead, he gains inspiration from current players in the NHL that play his type of game.
“I like to compare myself to players like Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull,” said Rosa. “I’m not saying that I’m as talented as they are. But we do have similar styles. I especially identify with Robitaille, who was told early in his career that he couldn’t skate well enough to make it in the NHL.”
Rosa knows that his NHL dream is shared by every young prospect that laces up skates.
“It takes a lot of patience,” said Rosa, who also in February participated in the AHL All-Star Classic for the first time in his career. “This game is so competitive and for every player, reaching the NHL is the ultimate goal. It not only takes skill and a solid work ethic, it also takes a little luck. I haven’t had the luck for the last few years, but I continue to hope that my time will come someday.”
Ask Rosa about the highlight of his career and he’ll quickly tell you that it occurred when he scored two goals in his NHL debut against the New York Islanders on December 17, 1998.
“Even today, that’s still my most memorable hockey moment,” said Rosa. “It was very special because I missed most of the previous season with post concussion syndrome. I went from thinking about retiring to getting a chance to play in the NHL. Scoring two goals in my NHL debut∑that was amazing.”
Rosa was injured during the 1997-98 season, his first in pro hockey, after two very productive seasons with the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Rosa grew as a person and as a player in Hull. On the ice, he adjusted to the North American game and became a better all-around performer. Off the ice, he met his future wife.
“Leaving home and moving to North America was a big step in my life,” said Rosa. “Before that, I had always been near my family. The first few weeks were tough. But I found a very good friend in Martin Menard, who was on my line for two years. He helped me adjust to the North American lifestyle. We are still best friends.”
If you’re looking for a vocal leader in the locker room, Rosa is not your guy. He admits to trying it before. But long ago, he realized that wasn’t a role that he was comfortable with.
“I know I can be a leader on the ice,” said Rosa. “We have enough guys in the locker room that will say what needs to be said.”
Rosa is much more comfortable as the locker room ambassador.
“I’ve played with so many different guys and in so many different places,” said Rosa. “Hockey has taken me around the world. I like to think of myself as an international guy who can get along with anybody. I especially want to help the young guys on our team. I want them to know that I’m here to help.”
As he approaches his 27th birthday (June 7), Rosa feels like his best hockey is still ahead of him. His focus and preparation allow him to think that way.
“I’ve adjusted the way I spend my time both before and after games,” said Rosa. “Everything is focused on the game. From the minute I enter the arena, whether it’s for practice or for a game, I try to be focused. It’s become a habit.”
“I like to think that right now, hockey is the only thing I have,” continued Rosa. “If I don’t work hard and I don’t focus on hockey, what else do I have in life? I have my family, but in terms of achieving something for myself, hockey is the only thing I have. So, even on days when I don’t feel like practicing, I try to find a way to push myself to be the best that I can be.”
Rosa, who earlier this season recorded his first professional hat trick (Jan. 4 against Lowell), is on pace to break the Monarchs’ franchise record for points in a season, held by left wing Eric Healey with 73. If and when he does establish a new scoring record, you can bet a member of the Monarchs staff will notify him of the accomplishment. That way, he won’t have to wait until the end of the season to see it on the stat sheets.