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Gaborik ‘just didn’t fit’ in Columbus, says GM

Mar 21, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT

Marian Gaborik AP

Less than a year after acquiring Marian Gaborik from the Rangers in a deadline-day blockbuster, Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen flipped Gaborik to Los Angeles in less ballyhooed fashion — and on Friday, he explained his motive for doing so.

“We had thought about it long and hard when we acquired him that we needed a little bit more skill,” Kekalainen told Sportsnet’s HockeyCentral. “I think we still could use a little bit more skill like Marian Gaborik has, but it just didn’t fit and it was time to move on because he was going to go to the unrestricted free agency.”

Acquiring Gaborik was Kekalainen’s first big move as Columbus GM. He sent forwards Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett, defenseman John Moore and a sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft to the Rangers, a pretty high price tag considering Gaborik 1) only had one year left on his five-year, $37.5 million deal, and 2) played just 34 total games for the Jackets, missing extensive time with a broken collarbone and sprained knee.

Injuries were a problem but the larger-scale issue, it seemed, was that Gaborik’s speedy, perimeter-oriented style of play failed to gel with Columbus’ lunch-bucket approach. The Jackets pride themselves on grit and hard work — “we’re a bunch of little rats,” is how Ryan Johansen so eloquently put it — so when the opportunity arose to get something in return for Gaborik (Matt Frattin, a second-round draft pick and a conditional third-round pick), Kekelainen made the deal with L.A.

“Our team is hard working, blue collar, grinding, in-your-face type of team and that’s our identity,” he explained. “We need 20 guys that are like that in our lineup.”

  1. getadealdonealready - Mar 21, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    Seems to be a theme everywhere he goes, it is crazy a guy with this much speed and scoring ability can’t seem to find a place to fit in and excel.

    • chicagobtech - Mar 21, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      How are his defensive skills?

      • govtminion - Mar 21, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        “Bure-esque”. That’s a word now.

      • kingsfan93 - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:28 AM

        His defense is not that bad. Just ask Jacques LeMaire who was all about defense.

      • chicagobtech - Mar 22, 2014 at 8:50 AM

        There’s always room for a guy like that in Chicago.

      • greatmiamisportsmind - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:34 AM

        Lemaire’s biggest gripe about Gaborik was his lack of playing any inkling of defense. It drove Lemaire nuts.

    • charlieconway96 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:52 PM

      If last night’s Kings game was any indication, it appears he and Kopitar are starting to build some chemistry. That first goal was a perfect example of why the Kings made that move. Hopefully there’s more to come!

  2. patthehockeyfan - Mar 21, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Darryl Sutter might be able to get from Gaborik what others haven’t. Sutter has an organization that allows people to fit in. I think it’s Gaborik’s decision at this point.

    • areaman714 - Mar 21, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      What has Browknee done for Sutter?

  3. elvispocomo - Mar 21, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Didn’t work out at all for the Jackets and I’m sure they could use the payers they gave up, but I don’t mind a GM taking a calculated risk to get a player he feels his team needs. He’s not the first to try that and fail.

  4. purpleguy - Mar 21, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    Rarely do players that refuse to play defense “fit in”.

  5. lezbehonestppl - Mar 21, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    And the Kings will happily continue to find homes for all of the offensive talent your system can’t find room for!

    • nightfireop - Mar 21, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      *cough* mike richards….
      *cough* jeff carter….

      thanks philly :D

      • flyboystransport - Mar 21, 2014 at 10:32 PM

        Nobody in philly ever complained about richards and carters offensive or defensive play in philly, their partying was their problem……and :b about their cup wim

      • phillyphanatic77 - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:44 AM

        The Flyers have gotten 175 pts from Simmonds, Schenn, Voracek, and Couturier… the Kings have gotten 83 measly combined points from Richards and Carter this season. Kings fans need to stop acting like the Flyers gave you the Cup. Columbus deserves some credit along with idk… J Quick. I’d do those trades over and over again. Simmonds (25), Schenn (22), Voracek (24), and Couturier (21) are just scratching the surface. Carter and especially Richards are on the downward slope.

  6. aldog83 - Mar 21, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Hard working gritty team.

    Sounds Like the Kings.

  7. crazemastercraze - Mar 21, 2014 at 10:44 PM

    The cup thing is a flyers curse, not a carter and Richards thing. Sorry to break the illusion.

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