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Gaborik looking forward to challenge in Columbus

by Dan Rosen /

Marian Gaborik's decision to waive his no-trade clause Wednesday afternoon was ultimately a pretty easy one to make.

The Columbus Blue Jackets coveted him and wanted him badly; the New York Rangers no longer did.

So Gaborik told Rangers general manager Glen Sather that he'd go and the trade was finalized with minor-leaguers Blake Parlett and Steven Delisle also heading to Columbus with Gaborik in exchange for center Derick Brassard, right wing Derek Dorsett, defenseman John Moore and the Blue Jackets' sixth-round pick in 2014.

Gaborik expects to play Thursday night against the Nashville Predators.

"I wasn't having any fun this year," Gaborik said shortly after he was traded to the Blue Jackets in what was arguably the biggest blockbuster on NHL Trade Deadline day. "I'm looking forward to a new challenge."

Gaborik was fighting it on the ice with the Rangers, but he didn't have to struggle to make his decision to waive his no-trade clause, not after talking to Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, president John Davidson and forward Vinny Prospal.

Kekalainen and Davidson called Gaborik to find out if he wanted to go to Columbus; Prospal, who played with Gaborik in New York, talked to him about why he should join the Blue Jackets.

By the time 3 o'clock rolled around, Gaborik was a Blue Jacket and he was placing a call to now former teammate Rick Nash to find out what the market is like.

Nash spent the first nine seasons of his career in Ohio's capital city. He was traded to the Rangers over the summer, but his brother still lives in Columbus.

"You can see in the short time that they [Davidson and Kekalainen] are there the team is showing that they're going in the right direction," Gaborik said. "Mostly when I talked to Vinny, to hear from him, and he's been really honest with me, that they're going in the right direction -- this is a better time [to go to Columbus] than it would have been last year for sure."

Kekalainen is hoping Gaborik will like it enough in Columbus to sign a long-term contract after this season. Gaborik isn't opposed to that.

"This trade just happened a few hours ago so I'm still trying to get used to it," Gaborik said. "I'll try to take it a game at a time, a week at a time and hopefully it can work out that I can be part of the future there too."

Most importantly, Gaborik needs to help the Blue Jackets now, which means he has to break out of his season-long scoring slump.

He scored 41 goals in 2011-12, but has nine and 19 points in 35 games this season.

"I feel the last couple of games I played really good, everything was happening but the puck wasn't going into the net," Gaborik said. "I believe I can carry it over to Columbus and just start to score some goals and feel good."

Gaborik's struggles this season might be linked to his deteriorating relationship with Rangers coach John Tortorella, who benched him and demoted him to the third line at various points because of defensive inadequacies.

Gaborik, though, said any strain in his relationship with Tortorella was blown out of proportion. He didn't blame his lack of production on how he was treated by the coach.

"I know the media makes a whole lot more out of it than it actually is," Gaborik said. "Torts has his style of coaching. He's been like that since I was here [in New York]. It was nothing new for me, nothing personal. It's true that sometimes we didn't see eye-to-eye, but that's hockey, everybody goes through something like that with their coaches."

Gaborik also had shoulder surgery in the offseason, but he said he's healthy and his shoulder has not been a problem all season.

"We [the Rangers] weren't doing like we should and it wasn't that much fun so I believe this change will help myself and help Columbus," Gaborik said. "I had a good time in New York, but this is part of hockey. This is my first time getting traded. It's a little bit different, a little shock at first, but it is what it is and I'm looking forward to playing in Columbus."


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