Gaborik to undergo surgery Monday, out 10-14 weeks

Posted on January 2nd, 2009 – 2:13 PM
By Michael Russo

Saturday correx: In the article, I should have written Gaborik missed his 31st out of 37 games tonight, not 37th game. Careless error, apologies. As I wrote on the bottom of this blog, I’m off to Denver. Stensaas on tonight. He’ll blog after morning skates.

9 p.m. update: I just got off the phone with Gaborik’s agent Ron Salcer.

He just clarified some more things told to Gaborik from Dr. Marc Philippon. He said he’s spoken to the doctor on four or five occasions.

“He made it really clear it’s not a gray issue. It’s black and white. He’s written published reports on this issue. It’s unequivocal. His playing will create more damage. That’s the deal-breaker.

“The doctor even said, ‘His right hip is perfect. It’s 100 percent. I tell you, if I do this surgery, without a doubt, there’s a 93-percent chance he’ll be as good or better than he has ever been, but we need to do it now. The longer he waits, the more damage he’ll curtail. He made it abundantly clear that Marian is a young player who’s an elite athlete with world-class speed that can have long-term effects if he plays on it.

“Marian wants to play in the worst way. He’s willing to play in pain. He’s willing to play hurt. But we’ve got to draw the line if he’s going to do damage to himself.”

Asked about the future and whether there will still be a huge market for Gaborik: “I’m not going to speculate on what may happen. The most important thing right now is for Marian to get healthy. We’re very confident in the doctor. He’s said that Marian’s got a very bright future ahead of him and we’ll go from there.

“You know, Marian’s got to have confidence in his body. We’re going to fix this thing. That’s what the doctor said. Twice he got close, but he was never right and he had two setbacks.”

On the Wild appearing as if it’s not supporting this: “As I told you, Marian wanted to play. But you can’t ask a 26-year-old to do damage and go ahead and keep playing. We certainly don’t support that, and I’d think they would, too. I mean, this was their idea that he see this doctor in the first place.”

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Marian Gaborik is scheduled to have surgery on his left hip on Monday in Vail, Colo.

The surgery will address a deficiency in his hip that has caused chronic left groin pain. The surgeon has apprised the team that a return to play from this surgery is as soon as ten weeks, with the player able to begin skating after six weeks.

That’s from the team. What it left out is the rest of the timetable, according to Gaborik, which is 10-14 weeks. That’ll take it past the March 4 trade deadline obviously, and almost to the end of the season if it goes the hefty side of those numbers. 

One Doug Risebrough quote said everything you need to know about how about much the Wild supports Gaborik’s decision to have surgery: “I’m disappointed that he won’t be here with us for this point in the season. But, you know, this is the choice that Marian has made. So I have no other comment.”

I think now we know for certain what the animated conversation Risebrough and Gaborik were having by the Zamboni entrance before Sunday’s game.

The Wild didn’t want to have surgery. Gaborik did.

Risebrough convinced him to skate for a few days and try to play against San Jose. Gaborik did skate, felt pain and said, that’s it, I’m doing the surgery.

I talked to a very frustrated Gaborik today, one who said he’s more than willing to play in pain as long as he knows he’s not doing long-term damage to his hip. But he says Dr. Marc Philippon told him he would make it much worse and potentially cause a much more serious surgery that would knock him out for half a year.

Gaborik’s got a lot of things going on in there — a torn labrum, cartilage flapping, bone on bone.

He said he’s been playing at 70 percent and in much discomfort and that Philippon told him his left hip is much worse than the right hip he operated on in May. 

He said it’s very tough not playing, but this is something he has to get fixed. He said if he was 38, it’d be a different story. He said his plan is to definitely return this season, but he’s got to be smart. He said he believes the hip problems have been the cause of his career-long groin problems, and that this will solve it for good. As an example, he said he’s had no right groin problems after his right hip surgery.

I knew this was coming this morning, so I wrote my Sunday column on Gaborik, specifically on the fact that disregarding all the stuff about how much money he left on the table and the fact that the Wild now has a player it most likely will lose for nothing at the end of the season, it’s just a shame this guy can’t stay healthy.

He’s a helluva player, and just maybe this surgery will be the cure.

Risebrough, unwilling to explain why, said he’s not putting Gaborik on Long Term Injury status, which would allow the Wild to spend up to $6.33 million (his salary) to go over the salary cap.

Risebrough said he’ll continue to look elsewhere, but again reiterated that it’s not easy to replace Gaborik and there aren’t a lot of big options out there. But the Wild is 26th in the NHL in goals for. The season will be at its midway point next Saturday.

The Wild is what it is. A defensive team that has trouble scoring. I just have trouble believing it’s going to magically start scoring without Risebrough acquiring scoring help.

On another topic, stop with the maybe now he’ll sign a short-term deal with the Wild stuff. 

First, why would the Wild or Gaborik do that? For one more year of trade rumors, contract distractions and potential injuries?

The damage is done. The animosity between these two sides is deep. I mean, they banned one of his best friends from the arena!!!

Just look at Risebrough’s quote above and what he thinks of Gaborik’s decision to have surgery.

And when I write my Owen Nolan piece in the next few days, digest Risebrough’s quotes and read between the lines when he talks about how players have to play through injuries in this league, including minor ones, and how players aren’t 100 percent the minute they walk into the league, and guys like Nolan are positive examples for the young guys and all that. 

Keep in mind that this interview took place yesterday when all this Gaborik stuff was going on and it was fresh in his mind.

Sure, Gaborik might come back before the season’s out and wear a Wild sweater again. That’s his goal. But I wouldn’t expect him here after July 1.

If he’s going to restablish his market with a short-term deal, I believe it’ll be elsewhere.

Stensaas is covering the Red Wings game tomorrow as I leave for Denver and the upcoming four-game road trip…Have a good night.

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