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NEWARK, NJ - MAY 21:  Marian Gaborik #10 of the New York Rangers looks on in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on May 21, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Marian Gaborik


Marian Gaborik Needs Shoulder Surgery, Expected to Miss Beginning of Next Season

Marian Gaborik scored 41 goals during the regular season, good for third in the NHL. But he was only occasionally productive in the playoffs, and scored just one point (a Game 5 goal) in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Devils. There'd been speculation that he was playing hurt, and earlier this week, when asked if he needed any medical treatment or procedures during the off-season, he said he didn't want to talk about it and would "know in a few days." Well, a few days have passed, and the news isn't good: Gaborik needs shoulder surgery and is expected to need five to six months for rehab.

Initial reports said that Gaborik had a rotator cuff injury, but later reports said it's a torn labrum. Assuming the NHL season begins on time — remember, the collective-bargaining agreement is set to expire — Gaborik isn't expected to be ready for opening night.

One of the reasons the Rangers had as successful a regular season as they did was that their top forwards mostly stayed healthy. Gaborik and Brad Richards played in all 82 games, for instance, and Ryan Callahan missed just six games. (This was a far cry from the year before, when Gaborik and Callahan combined to miss 42 regular-season games.) This Rangers team sometimes struggled to score, but they weren't an absolute disaster offensively: They finished 13 out of 30 in goals scored. That put them in the middle of the NHL pack, but it took a mostly injury-free season from their top forwards to put them even that high.

A team like, say, Pittsburgh could score plenty even without Sidney Crosby. But the Rangers couldn't afford an injury to an elite offensive weapon: They needed their top forwards to stay healthy just to be good-enough offensively. John Tortorella has made no secret of the fact that this team needs more scoring punch. Among other things, adding a scorer would give them the ability to better absorb an injury to one of their top guys. This isn't to say that Gaborik's lack of production was the only reason they didn't advance to the Stanley Cup Final; it's not. But it didn't help.

Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images