Sometimes you hear a player get booed and it makes sense. When Matt Cooke goes to Boston and gets jeered every time he touches the puck, it makes sense. He took Marc Savard’s head off in a game back in March of 2010. Savard never recovered, and today you can still find him on the Bruins long-term IR list.
If Eric Lindros (somehow) played a game in Quebec, odds are good that the fans there would boo him for his transgressions against the team. Paying fans are allowed to boo for whatever reason they want, but that doesn’t make the action logical.
Like when fans in Pittsburgh ridicule Jaromir Jagr when he touches the puck… that doesn’t make sense. It wouldn’t make sense for Columbus Blue Jackets fans to taunt Marian Gaborik tonight when he returns to Ohio for the first time as a member of the L.A. Kings.
@cbj_rocks I boo Jeff Carter and leave Gaborik alone.
— Jeff (@jacketsfan77) February 8, 2015
It’s not as if he left with some dirt on his name. Chant “Carter sucks!” all you want whenever Jeff Carter returns to Columbus. He moped around for months, devastated that he wasn’t going to remain a Philadelphia Flyer for the remainder of his career.
The idea here isn’t to rehash old hatreds. Did Blue Jackets management have to hop on a plane to finally speak with Carter because he wouldn’t answer the phone when his new employers called? Sure. Is that something a sports fan can boo? Absolutely.
There’s this strange thing happening around the NHL though, and it’s somewhat concerning. Fans are heckling any player that has ever worn the sweater in the past, regardless of how they left town. Don’t shoot the messenger, but when the Blue Jackets swung the deal for Gaborik, they were in desperate need of skill. Those Blue Jackets teams didn’t have much in the way of finishers, so management made a trade to address that.
A string of injuries prevented Gaborik from ever really making an impact, and he only appeared in 34 games for Columbus. The haul that the organization got back for the forward when they shipped him to California—Matt Frattin and a second and third round pick—wasn’t fantastic, but it’s not like the Slovakian sniper traded himself.
The Blue Jackets saw a chance to offload a depreciating asset, and it took that route. Frattin isn’t with the team anymore, but neither is Gaborik’s (since expired) monstrous contract. It was a hockey move, plan and simple.
Gaborik didn’t kick and scream until he was moved. He posted 22 points and even carried a plus-five during his time in Ohio. There just wasn’t a fit between team philosophy and style of play by the time Gaborik was finally healthy enough to play.
Things didn’t work out, but that isn’t a boo-able offense. Columbus shouldn’t want to be that kind of hockey town. That’s not being tough to play against. That’s a form of ignorance that will get you ridiculed. It’s hard to tell exactly what to expect from the Blue Jackets fans in this instance. They hurl insults in Carter’s directions, but he didn’t leave in a fashion that is comparable to Gaborik.
The forward acknowledged that fact while speaking to Lisa Dillman and other members of the media after Monday’s open skate. From her post at The Los Angeles Times:
I can’t control it. We’ll see. I’ve played in these situations before. I’m not really thinking about that. I know I’ve been hurt a lot. But I’ve done my job here.
I waived my no-trade clause to come here, so I showed them that I wanted to come here. I hope the fans appreciated that. We’ll see. Leave it up to them.
Sounds like a player that understands the situation. It’s not news to Gaborik that he spent most of his time with the Blue Jackets on the IR list; remember that time he missed 17 games with a sprained knee, then came back and broke his collar-bone just a few minutes into his first game back?
This was an injury-prone player on a team that seems to be cursed in that regard anyway. There’s a parallel universe where Gaborik went on to become the sniper that the Blue Jackets hoped he would be when they pried him from the New York Rangers.
That isn’t the way things went down, but that’s no reason to unleash the boobirds. It’s worked out for both parties. The Blue Jackets have a strong young core and are poised to contend for years to come, while Gaborik got a Stanley Cup ring while playing with L.A.
This is our plea, Columbus: don’t boo Marian Gaborik.