Marian Gaborik signed with the New York Rangers as an unrestricted free agent in 2009, and despite his injury woes he was viewed to be a key to the Rangers’ offense during his five-year deal. Gaborik recorded two 40-goal seasons on Broadway before he was shipped out of town first the to the Columbus Blue Jackets then to the Los Angeles Kings. As the Stanley Cup Final is set to begin the Rangers should be ruing the day they sent Gaborik out of town, especially given the circumstances.
During the Rangers’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012, Gaborik was playing through an injured shoulder and his play wasn’t at his regular season level. After New York was ousted former Rangers head coach John Tortorella lambasted Gaborik for his lackluster play during the playoffs. If I was Glen Sather I would’ve fired Tortorella on the spot; not only did he publicly humiliate the team’s star forward, but he failed to take into account that Gaborik was laboring through tremendous pain and his simply being on the ice should’ve been a testament to his character.
Less than a year later Gaborik was traded to the Blue Jackets for Derrick Brassard, John Moore and Derek Dorsett, all of whom are regulars in New York’s lineup. Moore is providing depth on the blue line, Brassard has been a great secondary scorer and Dorsett’s tenacity has come in handy for the Rangers. Having said that, combined they haven’t had the impact that Gaborik would have had for the Broadway Blueshirts.
11 (injury filled) months after being traded to Columbus, Gaborik was shipped to the City of Angels and has been lightning rod for the team offensively ever since. With 12 goals in the playoffs only Wayne Gretzky has scored more goals for the Kings during a playoff season. With at least four games to play, Gaborik has an opportunity to tie or even break The Great One’s record. Given the circumstances of his departure from New York it would be naive to think Gaborik wouldn’t want to break the record in Game 3 or 4 in Manhattan.
Even with Tortorella long gone from the Rangers’ bench his handy work remains as the low-scoring Rangers could surely use a player of Gaborik’s caliber. The Slovakian sniper knows this and will be extra motivated going into the finals. The Rangers would never say it publicly, but there is a definite sense of regret letting Gaborik go knowing he could be the difference in the series for the Kings.