Fanspeak: Gaborik voted greatest player in Wild franchise history


This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Minnesota Wild

1. Marian Gaborik (371)

2. Mikko Koivu (229)

3. Zach Parise (176)

4. Wes Walz (62)

5. Andrew Brunette (53)

6. Niklas Backstrom (31)

He’s the greatest goalscorer in Minnesota Wild history, and now he tops this list.

Marian Gaborik — drafted third overall in 2000 by the Wild — spent his first eight NHL seasons in Minnesota and produced some of the greatest highs in the club’s infancy. In 2002-03, the 20-year-old Slovak led the team to its first-ever playoff appearance on the strength of a 30-goal campaign, then put forth a remarkable postseason in which he scored 17 points in 18 games, leading the Wild all the way to the Western Conference Final.

(That spring, Gaborik finished one point shy of the playoff scoring lead — shared by New Jersey’s Jamie Langenbrunner and Scott Niedermayer — even though the Devils’ duo played in six more games.)

In 2007-08, Gaborik recorded the greatest offensive campaign in franchise history: 42 goals and 83 points, finishing seventh in the Rocket Richard race and 11th in Hart Trophy voting.

Gaborik was an original Wild that made his rookie debut (at 18) during the team’s inaugural campaign, but his time in Minnesota wasn’t entirely rosy. He missed the first month of the 2003-04 campaign to a contract holdout and spent much of his last season injured, appearing in just 17 games. It’s possibly why voting was so split.

Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?

Coyotes exploit another lousy outing from Quick

Jonathan Quick
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Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.

Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.

Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.

Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).


A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:

Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.

It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.


After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.

Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.