For a player who spends every game trying to prove himself, Nashville Predators forward Rocco Grimaldi certainly accomplished that during the postseason.
Speaking to media Wednesday as the Predators cleaned out their lockers and addressed the 2018-19 season for the final time, General Manager David Poile indicated he intends to bring the restricted free agent back to Nashville with a new contract. Consider Grimaldi in that camp as well.
"They've been so great to me, the guys are awesome, the staff, everyone here has been awesome and they've given me a chance to play and try to prove myself, to prove that I belong and that's all that I can ask for," Grimaldi said. "They gave me an opportunity, and from there, it's what I've done with it. I love it here, it's a great city, the fans have been super awesome to me and to my family and it's a great place. If that's something they're going to pursue, I'm definitely open to it."
For Grimaldi, the road to the NHL and even during the 2018-19 season was fraught with uncertainties, injury and a lot of patience. But once given the go-ahead, he knew he could show up for his team.
"I've been through a lot this year so it was nothing new. I knew that if there was a chance I was going to play, that I was ready. It didn't matter if it was Game 1 or Game 7, I was ready whenever they needed me," he said. "That's what a team is, you've got 25, 26 players on a team, not everyone's going to play but when your number is called you've got to be ready to go because everyone is counting on you and that's what I did."
Video: Grimaldi says he wants to re-sign with Predators
Not only did Grimaldi show up on the scoreboard for his team, he's also done it alongside the likes of Pekka Rinne or Filip Forsberg as a fan favorite in Smashville.
"Honestly, everyone was super welcoming from the moment that I got here. Fans have been reaching out on social media all season to me. And it's weird even seeing some fans wearing my jersey, and people creating 'Rocco's Modern Line' T-shirts, floating around online," Grimaldi said. "It's weird seeing your name out there, having even your shirsey up in the Preds shop. It's different for me, I'm not used to that. Everyone's been good to us, they've been super nice to [my wife] Abby around the concourse when they see her, being nice and some really cool stuff.
"This city's been great, and it's really everything we ever dreamed of, to be honest."
Already set to jump into training for next season, and with the possibility of more consistent ice time ahead of him, Grimaldi is looking to the as just another opportunity to prove himself to his teammates and to Nashville.
"The type of person that I am, there's never an 'I made it' or 'I deserve this or that.' For me it's a new year. There's a lot of guys that come and they have a great year and then the next year they don't have so great of a year because they rest on their laurels or they rest on their contract or winning or whatever," Grimaldi said. "That's never the person that I want to be. I don't want winning the Stanley Cup to change who I am, or signing a nice contract to change who I am. That's not the type of person that I am, that's not the type of person my parents raised me to be. I feel every year is a new year to prove yourself, it's a new year to prove your worth, and I'm hungry for more."