Risebrough: Gaborik won’t be signed by start of the season; Columbus 5, Wild 3

Posted on October 3rd, 2008 – 10:30 PM
By Michael Russo

FYI, edited a few things at the light of day. Wanted to also make clear neither side said they were done talking, although they’ve been talking for awhile. Also, Risebrough wouldn’t comment when asked if he’d continue negotiating into the season. 

The Marian Gaborik negotiations have hit a stalemate, and GM Doug Risebrough told me today he won’t be signed by the Oct. 11 opener.

“Not making any headway,” said Risebrough, who last month said it would be prudent to sign Gaborik, the team’s all-time leading scorer, to an extension by next Saturday’s season opener.

“I was trying to do something before the season. It’s not happening. … It’s not going to happen by the start of the season.”

Asked if he’ll react by putting Gaborik on the trading block, Risebrough said, “That, I’ll have to determine.”

Asked if he’s already started talking to other teams, Risebrough said, “I’m not going to comment anymore.”

It should be noted that previously when asked that same question, Risebrough had said emphatically, “I’m not talking to anybody, and I’m not interested in talking to anybody.”

I won’t rehash every detail I put in tomorrow’s paper. (Here’s the story). You can read Gaborik and the rest of Risebrough in there, and my analysis on the situation. But I will put up this quote from agent Ron Salcer.

Funny story, but I talked to Salcer while he was at a golf tournament on a cart next to Marty McSorley. McSorley jokingly threatened me. I jokingly told him I’d keep my head up, hehe.

“We have no obligation other than Marian to honor his contract and play hard,” Salcer said. “That’s his job and that’s what he’ll do. It’s their team. They’re entitled to run it the way they want to run it. We haven’t come to an amicable conclusion and we’ll see how they proceed. If they decide they want to move him, that’s their decision.”

I’ve got to tell you, this ain’t no bluff. Look at Salcer’s history. Ground-breaking contracts for Dave Taylor, Pavel Bure, Ed Belfour, Rob Blake and lots of others.

When L.A. wouldn’t sign Blake years ago for $9 million per, the Kings dealt him to Colorado and the Avs did just that.

Salcer believes someone will pay Marian Gaborik $9.5 million-10 million on the open market next summer, I think. And maybe he’s right. Los Angeles perhaps. How about Vancouver?

As I wrote tomorrow, usually these type of blockbusters are made among chums.

For instance, former Edmonton GM Glen Sather and the Rangers’ Neil Smith were tight in the 1990s. Sather dealt New York players like Mark Messier, Craig MacTavish, Kevin Lowe and Esa Tikkanen.

Sather and then-Calgary GM Cliff Fletcher are tight. The two could never make a trade because of the Battle of Alberta, but when Fletcher went to Toronto the first time in 1991, within a month, Grant Fuhr and Glenn Anderson were on the Maple Leafs.

Risebrough’s buddies? Montreal’s Bob Gainey, Toronto’s Fletcher and the Rangers’ Sather (Sather and Risebrough spent some time fishing in Alaska this summer, and the two have homes virtually next door to each other in Banff).

Of course, what can you get for a player who looks intent on becoming a free agent?

I think Pittsburgh is a strong possibility, too.

Ottawa’s Bryan Murray loves making blockbusters (acquiring Pavel Bure in Florida his biggest), but Heatley and Jason Spezza already have cap hits north of $7 million and Murray is trying to extend Daniel Alfredsson’s contract.

Florida is currently in a similar contract dispute with standout defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, although it seems far-fetched the Panthers would trade one problem for another.

I don’t like throwing names of players around when I’m not sure they’re involved in trade talks. I only do that when I feel I have something concrete. I will say I think Montreal makes a lot of sense. They have lots of cap room in future years and lots of good young players.

I would say this. It’s obvious to think the Wild just trades him to the East, but I think you just have to get the best trade possible. And if that means West, it means West. You can’t limit yourself to 15 teams.

I do think we’re at that point though where a trade seems a real possibility. And if there is indeed no way to bridge this gap, I think it would behoove the Wild to trade him as soon as possible.

Can you imagine Gaborik sustains a major injury this season and the Wild is unable to move him?

You can lose Brian Rolston and Pavol Demitra for nothing. You lose an asset like Gaborik for nothing, it’s catastrophic. However, the other side of this is the longer you wait, more teams might be able to afford Gaborik’s $6.33 million cap hit (prorated down as the season goes along).

Scouts at tonight’s game, and this really isn’t a big indication of anything (teams know Marian Gaborik): Vancouver, New Jersey, N.Y. Rangers, Ottawa, Florida, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Detroit.

As for the game, the Wild was awful for the first 30-plus minutes, and then suddenly, Gaborik started playing, and the game was turned around.

Three goals in 2:14, started by Owen Nolan, then Gaborik, then James Sheppard after Pascal Leclaire turned away a Gaborik chance. The Gaborik goal was nice. He was robbed on a breakaway five seconds before. He turned back up ice, and with Gaborik standing in the slot, Rick Nash put it on his stick.

Gaborik didn’t miss this break.

However, Gaborik then took two minors in the third, one that led to Kris Russell’s power-play winner.

“Cost us the game,” coach Jacques Lemaire said.

Lemaire then had this snarky quip.

He said he was going to play his best lineup Saturday in Montreal, including Nik Backstrom for back-to-back games.

I asked if Gaborik is allowed to play because Risebrough had said last weekend that Gaborik would not play back-to-back games in the preseason.

Lemaire: “Is it in his contract?”

Then he said Gaborik would play.

It’s hard for Lemaire to sympathize with Gaborik. Lemaire, a Hall of Fame center, didn’t make $1 million total in his playing career. The most he made was $185,000. In 1967, his rookie year, Lemaire made $7,000 with a $100 signing bonus.

Although, he’s doing quite well for himself now.

As for defenseman John Scott, he said x-rays were negative on his right ankle. He said it’s badly sprained. The Wild says he has a “sore leg.”

That’s it. You’ll hear from me just before the game in Montreal as I don’t even get into the city until 2 p.m. What a waste.

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