Blue Jackets notebook: Gaborik already having effect on new teammates
Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson tries to impede the progress of the Predators’ Sergei Kostitsyn.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Blue Jackets arrived a little early for the morning skate yesterday, walking into Bridgestone Arena with a bounce in their steps.
Walking in stride with the rest of the gang was winger Marian Gaborik, the three-time All-Star acquired Wednesday in a trade with the New York Rangers.
“I could really sense the energy in the room,” coach Todd Richards said. “You could see it in the players’ faces. It’s up to us now — the players and the coaches — to get this thing to the next level.”
Richards tried to make Gaborik’s transition as smooth as possible. He put him on a line with two fellow former Rangers teammates, center Artem Anisimov and right winger Vinny Prospal.
“It’s a young group, a hard-working group,” Gaborik said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge. I played with Arty and Vinny. I played with Arty a lot, actually. We had some good games together in New York. We’re going to work hard and enjoy ourselves, have some fun and do whatever it takes.”
Asked to describe Gaborik as a player, Anisimov smiled and leaned back in his locker stall.
“A great scorer,” he said. “He knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. He can beat you in so, so many ways. And when skates? Wooosh! He just goes. He’s just gone.”
The Blue Jackets have played their way back into the playoff chase by checking hard and leaning hard on goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. If Gaborik can help add an offensive boost to that mix, it could be a fun final month of the regular season.
“Provide offense … that’s why they brought me here, to help the power play, to score some goals,” Gaborik said. “There’s always pressure. Since I got into the league, there’s been pressure, and the pressure I put on myself to always produce is so familiar to me. It’s a good challenge before me, to come in here and play hard and help this team into the playoffs.”
Mark Letestu turned the No. 10 jersey over to Gaborik, who has worn it since he was a rookie in 2000 with the Minnesota Wild.
“I’m sure there will be some compensation,” Gaborik said with a smile.
Letestu has become quite the benefactor of this process. When the Blue Jackets acquired Brandon Dubinsky, Letestu gave him No. 17 and switched to No. 10. Now he’s wearing No. 55.
“I’ve been told that the cost in baseball is $50,000,” Letestu joked. “So I’m up to $100,000 this year. Marian and I have talked. We’re going to negotiate.”
Right winger Jared Boll missed last night’s game and is out tonight because of an upper body injury.