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Gaborik hesitates about coming back

Slumping Wild fighting for their playoff lives

By Michael Russo

McClatchy News Services

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — If it’s true Marian Gaborik will be the "shot in the arm" General Manager Doug Risebrough expects, the Minnesota Wild had better hope its fate isn’t already determined by the time Gaborik decides he’s ready to return.

Speaking to reporters in St. Paul on Monday, the injured winger said he expects to return from hip surgery "toward the end of the month, hopefully earlier."

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That’s inconsistent with what the Wild’s been portraying the past few days. Risebrough said over the weekend, "Ten weeks (March 16) looks pretty good now."

But Gaborik, who plans to start skating in full gear Thursday, said he’s not going to risk playing until fully comfortable.

"Obviously this is a tough road trip," Gaborik said of the Wild’s 0-2 start. "I wish I could help. I just have to wait and come back at the right time and come back strong. I don’t want to just come back to come back. I want to come back when I really feel I can contribute and be a big piece."

When asked about the pressure to get back in the lineup given the 10th-place team’s struggling, Gaborik said, "Quite frankly I haven’t really been watching games. I’ve been following the scores, but I haven’t been watching games. From my perspective, I just really need to focus on how am I feeling, how everything goes with me and then if everything goes good, I’m going to jump in to play. Definitely the pressure is on, but first of all I want to feel confident in my body and ... so far everything is going well."

Wild teammate Eric Belanger said he hoped Gaborik "didn’t mean it the way it sounds — I hope. I’m hoping because it’s too hard for him to watch. I’m hoping."

With the NHL trade deadline looming Wednesday, Gaborik was asked his thoughts on perhaps being dealt.

After pretending he didn’t know when the deadline was, Gaborik said, "I haven’t really thought of it. I have a contract. I know I am a free agent July 1 and I can’t really control what the team is going to do, so now I have to focus on how am I feeling, my rehab and my training and just really focus that I come back strong and healthy as ever."

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