LOS ANGELES — Blue Jackets right wing Marian Gaborik kept his Olympic hopes alive as long as possible, but he knew he was running out of time.
“I was hoping for a miracle,” Gaborik said.
After Gaborik’s latest X-ray this week, the Blue Jackets’ medical staff determined that his broken collarbone had not healed enough for him to represent Slovakia in the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. They presented him with the news yesterday, and Gaborik said doctors for the Slovakian national team agreed.
“It’s hard for me to say it’s the right decision because I so badly want to go and play for my country,” Gaborik said. “But I know deep down inside that it’s not ready. When I’ve been out on the ice with the guys these last few days, I know it’s not there yet. It’s getting better. I’m on the right track. But I’m not ready to compete in a game where there’s hitting.”
Gaborik spoke barely louder than a whisper.
“I don’t know if I’ll watch the Games,” he said. “I’m still trying to realize that I’m not going to be playing. My focus now is to work hard (during the break) and be ready when we start back up here. Play well, help us get into the playoffs and go from there.”
Gaborik suffered a broken collarbone on Dec. 21 when he was pinned between two Philadelphia Flyers after making a pass that led to a goal.
Getting to the Games
The Olympic break begins for the Blue Jackets after a game tonight at the San Jose Sharks. For six Blue Jackets involved in the Games, getting to Sochi, Russia, might become its own adventure.
Forward Artem Anisimov, defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin, and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will represent Russia. Those players, along with coach Todd Richards, an assistant for Team USA, and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, an assistant general manager for Finland, need to be in New York by the late afternoon on Sunday.
Practices begin on Monday, and the tournament starts on Wednesday. The Blue Jackets staff and players are on the planes leaving Newark, N.J. — which is expected to get a large snowstorm on Sunday.
“If we don’t get t here on time …” Richards said. “I don’t even want to think about it.”
Two players mentioned a contingency plan. The NHL might move at least one of the flights up to Saturday.
The Blue Jackets made a minor-league trade with Pittsburgh yesterday, acquiring right wing Paul Thompson and sending Spencer Machacek to the Penguins. Thompson, 25, had four goals, three assists and 50 penalty minutes in 39 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season. Machacek, 25, had nine goals and 10 assists in 34 games with Springfield this season. … The Olympic roster freeze begins at 3 p.m. today. … The Blue Jackets will return to practice on Feb. 19.