Marian Gaborik

Gaborik ‘just didn’t fit’ in Columbus, says GM


Less than a year after acquiring Marian Gaborik from the Rangers in a deadline-day blockbuster, Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen flipped Gaborik to Los Angeles in less ballyhooed fashion — and on Friday, he explained his motive for doing so.

“We had thought about it long and hard when we acquired him that we needed a little bit more skill,” Kekalainen told Sportsnet’s HockeyCentral. “I think we still could use a little bit more skill like Marian Gaborik has, but it just didn’t fit and it was time to move on because he was going to go to the unrestricted free agency.”

Acquiring Gaborik was Kekalainen’s first big move as Columbus GM. He sent forwards Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett, defenseman John Moore and a sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft to the Rangers, a pretty high price tag considering Gaborik 1) only had one year left on his five-year, $37.5 million deal, and 2) played just 34 total games for the Jackets, missing extensive time with a broken collarbone and sprained knee.

Injuries were a problem but the larger-scale issue, it seemed, was that Gaborik’s speedy, perimeter-oriented style of play failed to gel with Columbus’ lunch-bucket approach. The Jackets pride themselves on grit and hard work — “we’re a bunch of little rats,” is how Ryan Johansen so eloquently put it — so when the opportunity arose to get something in return for Gaborik (Matt Frattin, a second-round draft pick and a conditional third-round pick), Kekelainen made the deal with L.A.

“Our team is hard working, blue collar, grinding, in-your-face type of team and that’s our identity,” he explained. “We need 20 guys that are like that in our lineup.”

Sens demote former first-rounder Puempel

Matt Puempel
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Looks like Matt Puempel won’t be making the leap after all.

Puempel, the subject of Ottawa’s “looking to make the leap” profile during our Team of the Day series, has been sent down to AHL Binghamton one day prior to the Sens’ opener against Buffalo.

Puempel, taken by Ottawa in the first round (24th overall) at the ’11 draft, made his big-league debut last season and looked as though he’d stick around — only to suffer a high ankle sprain after 13 games, and miss the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old came into this year’s camp looking to secure a full-time position at the big league level, but was beaten out by Shane Prince for the final forward spot on the roster.

To be fair, contract status probably played a role. Prince would’ve had to clear waivers to get down to Bingo, whereas Puempel didn’t.

A former 30-goal scorer in the American League, Puempel is expected to get another look with Ottawa this season.

Report: Torres won’t appeal 41-game suspension


Sounds like Raffi Torres is accepting his punishment.

Per Sportsnet, Torres won’t appeal his 41-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The report comes just days after the NHL’s Department of Player Safety levied one of the longest disciplinary rulings in league history, citing both the severity of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ lengthy history of suspensions, fines and warnings.

There was some thought, however, that Torres would try to challenge the ruling.


He does have a history of success in that department. In 2012,Torres successfully appealed his suspension for a headshot on Chicago’s Marian Hossa, and had his punishment reduced from 25 games to 21.

Torres also isn’t considered a “repeat offender” under the current collective bargaining agreement, as his last suspension came in 2013.

Of course, part of that clean record is due to the fact he hasn’t played much. Torres has largely been sidelined by injury for the last two seasons, missing all of last year with knee problems.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman delved further into the repeat offender thing in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

If you read the relevant sections of the CBA, the league takes the position that the repeat offender status is only applicable to fines. Repeaters are fined on a per-game basis, non-repeaters on a per-day basis. (The former is more expensive, because there are fewer games than days in an NHL season.) However, if you go to Section 18.2, among the factors taken into account are, “the status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct.”

So, in the NHL’s view, a player’s history is relevant, even if longer than 18 months ago.

Should the report prove accurate and Torres doesn’t appeal, he will be eligible to return to action on Jan. 14, when the Sharks take on the Oilers.