Gaborik practices, hopes to play on trip (Lemaire has other ideas)

Posted on December 9th, 2008 – 10:30 AM
By Michael Russo

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I feel like the incompetent photographer from the awesome mid-90s movie, The Paper. In the movie, the photographer had to shoot a very important perp walk for the front page of her New York tabloid and she barely delivered something usable.

So, yes, I know the above pictures aren’t exactly like the puck on Niklas Backstrom’s paddle captured by Strib photog Carlos Gonzalez last week, but all I had was my Blackberry camera, so it’ll have to do.

Trust me, it’s Marian Gaborik.

Luckily, Star Tribune.com’s Shari Gross was at practice. Here’s a video of Gaborik practicing, plus interviews with Gaborik, Eric Belanger and Jacques Lemaire. My handsome mug even makes a cameo. :)

Wearing a lone light green sweater, Gaborik took part in his first practice since Oct. 13.

He was very cautious, took part in all the non-contact drills and lasted the whole practice. He looked very rusty, which is understandable, and like I said, extremely cautious. Still, Gaborik said he hopes to play on the upcoming three-game trip.

That’d be a massive surprise if that happens. First of all,  Lemaire said he’s a long way from playing.

(updated) The Wild says Gaborik will make the trip, but it could only be to practice. There are two practices scheduled — Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., and Friday in El Segundo, Calif.

Gaborik was clearly happy to be on the ice with his teammates. The last time was Oct. 30, but that was just an optional morning skate and he sustained a setback. He was chirping some of his teammates this morning and was smiling a lot.

Lemaire was less excited. He was in kind of an abrasive mood. He said Gaborik was a long way of playing, said he was rusty and almost had an “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude. After all, Gaborik’s sustained setbacks before.

Lemaire even sarcastically said, “If we’re not too strict with his defense, we’ll be fine. He’ll be able to get some goals.”

“It’s funny?” Lemaire asked.

I think this was a reference to the list that accompanied my Gaborik story Sunday that speculated on five reasons this Gaborik-Wild relationship has been simmering. One was Jacques Lemaire, the other the Wild’s defense-first system.

By the way, I forgot to mention, defenseman Kurtis Foster took part in his second straight practice but first where he stayed the whole time and did most the drills. He’s still a ways away though, but was wearing a normal maroon-colored defenseman’s jersey.

Lastly, if you didn’t see, David La Vaque wrote a really good talker today about whether hockey coaches like Don Lucia should sway hockey recruits to not play fall sports like football. It’s in light of the torn ACL sustained by Edina’s Zach Budish. You’ve got to feel for Budish, who’s future is in flux. I watched him play in a game last season, and the kid is truly a linebacker on skates.

He’s draft eligible this year, but unfortunately his stock will likley fall because of the injury.

That’s it from here. I’ll talk to you after tomorrow afternoon’s practice in Arizona, and remember, Russo Radio on KSTP at 6 p.m. CT.

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