Marian Gaborik comfortable as Kings' extra weapon | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMarian Gaborik comfortable as Kings' extra weapon

Posted: Friday, June 6, 2014 | 12:20 PM

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Marian Gaborik joined the Los Angeles Kings at the trade deadline and the move paid off: he leads all playoff goal scorers with 12 tallies. (Harry How/Getty Images) Marian Gaborik joined the Los Angeles Kings at the trade deadline and the move paid off: he leads all playoff goal scorers with 12 tallies. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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When he skates onto the ice all he needs to do is worry about doing his job. He doesn't have to drive the bus; just don't sit back and be a passenger.

It is the perfect role for Marian Gaborik.
When he skates onto the ice all he needs to do is worry about doing his job. He doesn't have to drive the bus; just don't sit back and be a passenger.

It is the perfect role for Marian Gaborik.

The third overall pick in the 2000 entry draft has enjoyed moments of greatness in the NHL, but there have been equal moments of disappointment as he bounced from team to team.

His natural offensive instincts made him an obvious pick for the expansion Minnesota Wild after the New York Islanders chose goalie Rick DiPietro first and the Atlanta Thrashers took Dany Heatley second. It could be argued the Wild got the best player.

Wild coach Jacques Lemaire did a good job enlightening Gaborik about the defensive side of the game and he became a responsible two-way player. Yet despite scoring 30 or more goals seven times and recording three 40-plus goal seasons, Gaborik has never been considered one of the best players in the NHL. It was as though there was more to give and he just wouldn't do it.

Until now.

Joining the Los Angeles Kings at the trade deadline from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Gaborik came in as a support player. A damn good support player at that.

He joined the Kings top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, but there was no pressure on him to be the driving force of the trio. That's Kopitar's role.

"I think Gabby coming in at the deadline gave us an extra weapon that we needed and didn't necessarily have in the past," said Brown, the Kings captain.

Indeed Gaborik is that extra weapon.

In 19 regular season games with Los Angeles, the 32-year-old Trencin, Slovakia native scored five goals and 16 points. He has a league-high 12 goals in the playoffs (one more than he scored in 41 regular season games) and ranks fifth in scoring with 19 points.

When Gaborik first joined the Kings, Brown made a point of taking him aside and explaining how the group operated off the ice.

"We're close off the ice," Brown said. "When you have a group of guys that get along really, really well and you get a guy like Gaborik coming in, it's easy to just mesh him into the group. There are no cliques on our team."

Gaborik played his first three games with the Kings on the road in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary.
"It was good to get to know the guys," Gaborik said. "We were in Canada for a week and it was a great way to get to know the guys. You could tell that this team had a great locker room. Without that I don't think they would be able to be a winning team."

Being in the Stanley Cup final is a dream come true for Gaborik, but he admitted facing his old team, the New York Rangers, was a little strange at first.

"It was a little weird to start with," Gaborik said. "But as soon as the puck was dropped it was like playing any other team."

What comes next for Gaborik remains to be seen. He earns $7.5 million US a season and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Can the Kings afford to re-sign him?

Would re-signing him mean the Kings have to buy out Mike Richards? Will his journeyman career continue with yet another team?

One thing is certain, with his performance in this year's playoffs Gaborik will attract a lot of attention if the Kings should decide to set him free.

That's a Great One

Kings centre Anze Kopitar was asked about being ranked as the third best player in the NHL behind only Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks by none other than Wayne Gretzky prior to Game 1.

"I'll take any compliment from that guy," Kopitar said. "Even if he said I was fifth in the rankings I would have taken it. It's obviously very nice to hear things like that."

Drew who?

Hard as it may be to believe given his many accomplishments, but many people - especially those in the East - are only beginning to understand exactly how dominant Kings defenceman Drew Doughty is. He was amazing in helping Canada win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in 2010 and 2014 and he is a serious contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in this year's playoffs.

"With Drew it's the progression of a player on and off the ice," Brown said. "I think people first heard of him in the 2010 Olympics. Since then we won [the Cup], the he won in Sochi and now we're back in the final. He has become a much better player than he was four years ago. He is becoming much more of a leader on and off the ice."

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