Q: Mario, you’re at work today, but not on the ice. How are you feeling?
A: I am feeling pretty good actually. I have been feeling pretty good the last couple of days with the medication I am taking now. Hopefully, it’s just going to get better from now on.
Q: What’s the history of this?
A: It started this summer, probably around June. It’s been on and off all summer, training camp. The most-recent one was in Tampa, where it lasted over a day, day and a half. This recent one was over a day. This was not the first time and we just didn’t know what it was at the time, but we were able to catch it the last time I went to the hospital right away. They put me on a monitor right away and were able to diagnose what I have now [atrial fibrillation].
Q: Was it scary?
A: Yeah it was pretty scary, especially when you don’t know what it is. It happened at the end of practice on Wednesday and it just didn’t stop for a while, so I was pretty scared until I really found out what it was. It’s something that’s pretty simple that can be taken care of with medication. I have to see the doctors on Monday and do another stress test, which is a lot of fun, just to make sure the medication is working properly and go from there and hopefully start skating soon.
Q: Is there lightheadedness or anything like that associated with this?
A: Yeah. I would get dizzy and have to sit down for a few minutes. That’s really what happened last practice. The last drill, I started to get dizzy and I think Edzo saw my face and called practice, which I was pretty glad.
Q: Do you have a target date for when you’d like to play?
Q: Do you think you’re talking weeks or months or years?
A: No. Hopefully, by next week, I will be able to get back on the ice and start skating again – really go by the doctors and how I feel. Hopefully, the sooner, the better. I would like to probably start next week if I am able to.
Q: What did they tell you about the medication, Mario, and how they use that to gauge whether or not it’s working?
A: We’ll find out on Monday. That’s supposed to keep my hear rate at a certain level and the blood pressure medication, that’s a problem I have when I work out – my blood pressure goes up and I get dizzy and my [heat] palpitation rises. So, that should take care of these two things.
Q: Is there any reason to think this would have any kind of impact on your career?
A: Not really. I have talked to a lot of people the last couple days. There are a lot of people who have it and they are able to regulate it with medication. So, from talking to the doctors and a lot of people who have it, I wouldn’t think it’s going to have an impact on my life.
Q: Will it have any impact on your plans for the Olympics?
A: I talked to [Wayne Gretzky] a couple days ago and I told him that I would pass on the Olympics. With the way I have been playing so far and with the young guys we have coming up in Canada. I think the best thing to do is to go with the young guys, the young legs. With Spezza playing very well and Sid and Staal and all these guys, I think it’s time for these guys to step up and they deserve to be on the team. So, I called Gretzky and let him know a couple days ago.
Q: Was it tough for you to pass on this chance? Probably your last shot.
A: Yeah, it’s always tough. I thought it was my last shot in 2002. It is always tough. I enjoyed playing in the 2002 Olympics, especially winning the gold. It was a great experience and I would’ve loved to be there this year, but considering my play so far, the way I’ve been feeling and some of the young guys we have for Team Canada, I think it’s much better to go that route.
Q: That didn’t stop Wayne from showing up today. He’s not here to try to change your mind is he?
A: No. I talked to him for a little while a couple days ago and told him that this would be the best thing for Team Canada. I think he’s coming to see a couple guys from Colorado and Sidney.
Q: Mario, there’s three really solid, young centers that are lighting it up right now, including one of them on your team. Have you tried to tell Wayne which one you’d like to see?
A: No, not really. We didn’t talk about the players. I think he is well aware of who is playing well right now and the young kids coming up. These guys are going to be part of Team Canada for a long time and they should be a part of it starting this year.
Q: [Gretzky] has publicly said that Sidney has really impressed him. Do you think that bodes well for Sidney?
A: Absolutely. I think he should be on the team. He is going to be part of Team Canada for the next 15-20 years. Even if he goes there and doesn’t play a whole lot, just to have the experience of playing with these guys and practicing with these guys for a week to 10 days…I know, when I played for Team Canada back in ’87 [at the Canada Cup], it really changed my career. I am sure it would help Sidney quite a bit to be in that environment.
Q: Looking back at the last few weeks, how much was this problem with your heart affecting you level of energy on the ice and just your ability to play the game?
A: I think it was a big part of it. The symptoms are fatigue and sluggishness all the time, which I was on the ice, and not being able to have any jump. From talking to people who have it, sometimes you don’t realize that that is what is happening to you and a lot of people don’t feel it. So, I was lucky enough that I was able to feel it, diagnose it and regulate it with medication. Hopefully, I will start to feel a little better and have a little jump when I get back on the ice.