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Gaborik fired up for home debut with Columbus

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Marian Gaborik had a loud debut in the Blue Jackets' 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night, and he wants to experience another loud debut this afternoon.

It was a wild, somewhat-surreal 24-hour stretch that began with Wednesday's trading deadline. Gaborik, preparing for his mid-afternoon nap before the New York Rangers faced the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden, looked at his ringing cell phone and saw Glen Sather's name pop up.

Less than an hour later, Gaborik signed a no-trade waiver and became a member of the Blue Jackets in a six-player deal that sent shock waves around the NHL.

John Davidson, who spoke with Gaborik over the phone while the trade was being finalized, took a private plane to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and met the team's newest acquisition. Davidson and the Blue Jackets wanted Gaborik to feel welcomed and also wanted him in the lineup as soon as possible, and they flew from Teterboro to Nashville where Gaborik met his new teammates for the first time.

All Gaborik did in his Jackets debut was tally the game-winning goal in the third period, pick up an assist on James Wisniewski's power play goal and play big minutes on a newly-assembled line with Artem Anisimov at center and Vinny Prospal on left wing.

That trio will remain intact as Columbus faces a pivotal game against the Minnesota Wild this afternoon - ironically enough, the club that drafted Gaborik third overall in 2000.

"I'm sure it's going to be fun to play in this building tonight," Gaborik said. "This is a new chapter for me. I'm looking forward to it. It's a challenge, it's my first game at home. Hopefully the building's going to be jumping.

"We'll try to make it a good one."

Despite being asked several times since the trade about factors that weighed into his decision to waive his no-trade clause, Gaborik has been consistent with his message: he spoke to several members of the organization, is encouraged and excited about the direction of the team and wants to be part of its future.

The Blue Jackets' commitment to him was reinforced by the fact that they gave up multiple assets to acquire him, and as Gaborik said, it always feels good to be wanted.

"I had some time to think about it," Gaborik said of his decision. "I talked to a couple of guys here, JD and Jarmo and that made my decision easier. It's a young team with a lot of potential for the future, so I'm glad I made the decision.

"One team wants you and the other team wants to go in a different direction. I told myself this is a fresh start and a new challenge. We have a chance to make it, we're in the hunt -- we have 10 games left and we're going to try to do everything to make a push."

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