Back Gaborik, Not Push Him AwayFebruary 9, 2011, by
Maybe the Rangers are listening to offers for their star winger, maybe not. Maybe he looks like he’s coasting at times maybe not. He seems to play alot on the periphery this season when he needs to be more involved. However he apparently does care. He probably is trying. One thing above all else though, he’s not the first star player to have a sub-par year (shock horror). Reading the beat writers on a regular basis you’ll note that Gaborik has taken personal abuse from fans (to an extent justifiably) and his reaction has been one of disappointment. He’s not one of the old Rangers era where he’s just coming to cash his cheque and get out. He wants to win.
Look around the league. Martin St Louis way back in 05/06 dropped to 61 points and a -3 after a 94 point season in which he was the leagues MVP. He’s loved in Tampa and his play over the past couple of years is back at an elite level. Brad Richards, the objective of so many Rangers fans affections is just two years removed from 48 and 51 point seasons. We all know how he’s played over the past 18 months. Danny Briere had just 53 points last year but is on course for over 40 goals this season. Big name players can also have sub par years but they also have the ability to bounce back. Let’s back Gaborik to do the same; he hasn’t lost his talent as a few games this year can prove. Yes, Manhattan and the garden are alot different than playing in Texas, Tampa or other hockey outposts (I so wanted to include Philly there….) and – injury aside – this is Gaborik’s first real experience of adversity in his NHL career when you think how he was adored in Minnesota and how well his first year in NYC went. Hopefully he can find his form quickly, hopefully he can help the Rangers get to the playoffs in this transition year but even he doesnt, regardless of the Rangers year, lets back him to bounce back and be the critical component that he can and should be. Hell, it may even be a good thing that the younger Rangers players are learning to produce and not lean on the star man like how teams and players have done in the past. If Jagr didnt score often the Rangers didnt so there may be a silver lining to Gaborik’s cloud.
It’s not often in recent memory that the Rangers have had a winger like Gaborik, entering his prime instead of playing out his final days in NY. He’s 28 and on a team that cant score is still on course for 54 points in what can only be described as a brutal year for the winger.However having played competitive sports myself, its alot easier to rebound or produce better results when you’re surrounded by support rather than a chorus of boos or negativity. Yes, be frustrated by his season but those of you who are lucky enough to go to the garden and cheer on the Blueshirts on a regular basis should be aware of the longer term ramifications. Back Gaborik to rebound, he has the talent.