The last time Marian Gaborik of the Los Angeles Kings was an unrestricted free agent in 2009 he went to the highest bidder. Gaborik ended an injury-plagued tenure with the Minnesota Wild and inked a five-year deal with the New York Rangers worth over $37 million. Supposedly Gaborik had offers for less money with perennial contenders such as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks in 2009, but he chose the big money and bright lights of New York instead.
After four up-and-down seasons on Broadway, Gaborik found himself being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets and later the Kings. Now as he takes the plunge back into free agency, he needs to ponder the unrivaled benefits of possibly taking less money to stay in Los Angeles rather than taking his talents to the highest bidder.
Gaborik scored 14 playoff goals and captured his first Stanley Cup with the Kings while showcasing the amazing ability that made him such a sought after commodity. His value to the Kings was proven as he was the “x-factor” that got the team over the hump. He was a proverbial round peg in a round hole as the fit between him and the Kings was amazing.
That fit should keep Gaborik on the West Coast, because why would he want to ruin a great thing? Signing a cap-friendly deal with the Kings would give the team flexibility to continue contending and Gaborik a chance to spend the rest of his prime years skating with one of the league’s preeminent teams.
Having said that, those aren’t my millions of dollars that would be left on the table in taking less money, so Gaborik must do what’s best for him. The question of what is more important money or championships comes to the forefront as there will surely be some give between him and the Kings in the contract negotiations.
If Gaborik is serious about winning and being happy on and off the ice, L.A. is the place to be. If he leaves the known happiness of the Kings for another solely for money, he risks reliving his awful experience with the Rangers.
Listening to John Tortorella scream for screaming’s sake would shake anyone to the core — even someone making over $7 million per year.