The Columbus Blue Jackets have announced that forward Marian Gaborik will be unable to play for Slovakia at the 2014 Winter Olympics, as he’s yet to sufficiently recover from a broken collarbone.
“Marian has worked extremely hard and done everything possible to rehabilitate his injury and return to the ice with the hope of representing his country in Sochi,” said Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen. “We share his deep disappointment that he will not be able to do so, but are optimistic that he will be fully recovered very soon.”
Gaborik, 31, was a key performer during Slovakia’s surprising fourth-place finish at the ’10 Winter Games in Vancouver, leading the team with four goals in seven games while averaging over 17 minutes a night.
He had five goals and 12 points for Columbus through the first 18 games of this season.
“I’m extremely disappointed that I won’t be able to play for Slovakia at the Olympic Games but understand the decision is the right one for my recovery and for the national team,” said Gaborik. “I have been lucky and proud to represent my country at two Olympic Games and other international tournaments and look forward to doing so again in the future.”
Slovakia will have an extremely difficult time replacing Gaborik’s offense and overall pedigree. The country doesn’t have a wealth of NHL talent to choose from — all 13 active Slovaks in the league made the Olympic team, which includes Chicago sniper Marian Hossa and Boston captain Zdeno Chara. Isles defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky has already been ruled out of playing for the Slovaks because of concussion concerns.
According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, former NHLer Branko Radivojevic will replace Gaborik on the Slovakian team. Radivojevic played in nearly 400 games with the Flyers, Coyotes and Wild before moving to the KHL in 2008-09.
UPDATE: According to the KHL, Radivojevic is indeed the replacement.