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Was Gaborik a Locker Room Cancer?

I've received a ton of e-mail and tweets lately regarding why the Rangers turnaround has been so dramatic since the Marian Gaborik trade. I've been asked if I thought Gaborik was possibly a cancer in the locker room and there was even a great conversation in the comments section of the Rangers/Hurricanes recap on this subject in response to Henrik Lundqvist's comments on the effect the trade has had on the team (via New York Post)…

“It’s a different atmosphere in the room. Not only did we get some really skill players, but it changed the dynamic in the room. It’s just a lot better feeling in here.”

…i'll start this off by stating that neither any of you nor myself have been anywhere near the Rangers locker room, so this stuff is nothing more than speculation. Which is what this blog obviously does best. ;)

…having said that, based on the Rangers dramatic 180, I think it is a fair question to ask.

…my impressions of the Lundqvist quote is that he's describing how the room has changed based on them winning, not necessarily because Gaborik aka "The Cancer" is gone. As the saying goes, winning cures all ills.

…and sometimes you just need some fresh faces to shake things up. It can get stale with the same guys, especially when you're losing.

…another reason I'm not buying the Gaborik was a cancer theory is that there's never been reports of a problem. No leaks or grumblings about Gaborik dividing the locker room or bringing down morale. If there was an issue, it would have absolutely come out after the trade. Did Gaborik and Torts not see eye-to-eye this season? Probably. But same as my reasoning for why Torts shouldn't get fired, Gaborik was traded just 35 games after he helped lead one of the closest Rangers teams in history to the Eastern Conference Finals. Could Gaborik have destroyed things that quickly? Sure, some players might have begun resented Gaborik's lack of aggressiveness or hustle this season, but I refuse to believe it had that negative of an effect on the locker room. Things sure looked hunk-dory when he was scoring 40+ goals in two of the last three years.

…and besides, this quote from Rick Nash after the trade sounded like at least they were close (via Columbus Dispatch)…

 "I was pretty tight with Gaborik — we used to car-pool together — and it’s tough to see him go."

…so in the end, I think Lundqvist is 100% right. The new guys have changed the dynamic in the room by infusing some much needed energy. But, in my opinion, Lundqvist was not condemning Gaborik, merely pointing out that winning breeds a positive environment.

Speaking of Gaborik, he was pointless with four shots on goal in the Blue Jackets 3-0 loss to the Wild last night.

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Kevin

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