Marian Gaborik's Shoulder Couldn't Take the Load

Gaborik will miss up to six months after shoulder surgery

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, Jun 4, 2012  |  Updated 4:23 PM EDT
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Marian Gaborik's Shoulder Couldn't Take the Load

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It will be a longer offseason than Gaborik wants.

Add Marian Gaborik's shoulder to the list of things creating a melancholy mood for Rangers fans.

Gaborik, the team's leading scorer this season, has a torn labrum in his right shoulder and will miss up to six months after having surgery to repair it. That means Gaborik will be out into next season -- assuming, of course, that the season starts on time.

There's a labor fight brewing in the NHL this summer, and fans of the NFL and NBA will be glad to tell you about what fun those can be if they get to the lockout stage. Rooting for such things is probably a sin, but it would mean the Rangers would have to play less time without their top sniper.

Gaborik said he suffered the injury two months ago and then aggravated it in Game Three of the Ottawa series. Gaborik scored one goal and had no assists in the six-game loss to the Devils.

Gaborik certainly didn't play well against the Devils, but his three goals against Washington (after he suffered the injury) were key to winning that series. There was clearly something missing from his game, though, and John Tortorella reacted to it with some extended benchings during the postseason.

The team missed his scoring touch in those stretches and the team is going to miss Gaborik terribly early next season. He scored 41 goals last year, the third best in the NHL, and the Rangers are short on big scorers behind him.

It's symbolic, in a dark sort of a way, that it is Gaborik's shoulder that betrayed him. He's had plenty of other injury issues in his career, but his shoulder finally gives way after he spent 102 games shouldering an oversize share of the scoring load for the Rangers.

That should turn up the pressure on general manager Glen Sather as he starts shopping this offseason. There was no question the team needed more punch up front when Gaborik was included in the mix, so removing him from the equation only deepens a hole that needed to be filled.

Whether that means a return to Rick Nash discussions, a free agent run at Zach Parise or something else entirely remains to be seen, but the Rangers can't just stand pat on their hands in hopes of surviving until Gaborik returns. Scoring is the main reason for that, but it is hardly the only one.

Gaborik's injury also provides a reminder of just how well things played out for the Rangers on the health front this season. Marc Staal and Michael Sauer each missed a lot of time, but the team was otherwise free of serious injuries.

Gaborik, Brad Richards, Derek Stepan, Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust all played in every game while Ryan Callahan missed six over the course of the season. Things aren't likely to break that way two years in a row (and Prust is a free agent), which means the Rangers absolutely need to get deeper as they prepare for next season. 

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