Blue Jackets notebook: Gaborik’s shot at Olympics slipping away

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Eamon Queeney | Dispatch
Mark Letestu tries to maneuver the puck around the Senators’ Stephane Da Costa in the first period. Letestu registered two shots in the Blue Jackets’ 3-2 loss.

Time is not on the side of injured Blue Jackets right wing Marian Gaborik, who yesterday expressed doubt about his chances of playing for Slovakia in the Olympics next month.

When asked if he felt as if he was on track to play, Gaborik said, “What’s on track, you know? I still try to think positive, but time is running out.”

Gaborik suffered a broken collarbone on Dec. 21 in a victory over the Philadelphia Flyers and had surgery on Dec. 24. He must be cleared by the Blue Jackets medical staff to play for Slovakia, which opens the Olympics on Feb. 13 against the United States.

Gaborik began skating on his own last week. He said he did some stick-handling and light passing yesterday but has yet to resume shooting. There are no deadlines for him to add shooting or contact to his routine, he said.

“I’m trying not to take a look at what’s going to happen two weeks from now,” Gaborik said. “I just try to take it day by day. It is better to do it this way. It gives you more of a feeling that you can progress from day to day rather than look at the big picture where you can see time running out.”

Gaborik said joining the Blue Jackets in California next week is “up for discussion” but said playing any NHL games before the break begins on Feb. 8 is “impossible, I think.” Gaborik remains in contact with Slovakian officials every few days, and it is possible his national team would keep him on its roster, even if he was not ready for its opener.

Gaborik, a two-time Olympian, will have another X-ray early next week, the results of which will be “a big thing,” he said, in determining his chances of playing in a third straight Winter Games.

Gaborik is in the final season of his contract and the Blue Jackets would prefer he play in Sochi, Russia, if healthy. The Dec. 21 game was Gaborik’s first since he suffered knee sprain on Nov. 14, and an Olympic tournament would help him get back into NHL form in advance of a playoff push or, possibly, a trade.

Comeau returns

Right wing Blake Comeau was back in the lineup last night against the Ottawa Senators after missing nine games because of a sprained left knee. For a moment, it appeared as if his return would be as short-lived as Gaborik’s.

Comeau went down and limped off early in the second period, a few seconds before Ottawa took a 2-0 lead. Comeau hobbled to the dressing room, favoring his right leg, but returned later in the period. He played only one shift in the third. He received treatment from the training staff after the game and was unavailable to the media.

Comeau originally was injured during practice on Jan. 9 and was expected to miss four to six weeks.

Slap shots

Defenseman Ryan Murray was sent to the dressing room when a shot by Ottawa’s Zack Smith deflected off Murray’s stick and struck him in the chin late in the second period. Murray got stitched up and was back on the ice for the start of the third. “It looks good to me,” he said of the gash. … Comeau’s return bumped Corey Tropp from the lineup. Tropp, acquired off waivers from Buffalo on Nov. 28, had played in 26 of the previous 27 games.

smitchell@dispatch.com

@smitchcd

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