So, Gaby and the Wild are at loggerheads. No real surprise there; he seems to either think he's worth Crosby money or is just demanding a ridiculous number to force the team's hand. Frankly, I really hope DR does NOT give him Crosby money - as his history would indicate he would not.
But obviously that all remains to be played out. (Risebrough has said he'd like it to be played out before the start of the season, but that looks like a pipe dream as well at this point.)
My question is: what's the worst-case scenario? Is the team screwed without Gaby? I remember hearing somewhere that their record without him in the lineup is not so good. But does that mean they can't play without him, or that they just haven't so far? Does that change if he's no longer on the team - as opposed to just not available for a given game?
I'm still not convinced of the "The Wild and DR can't attract players because of Lemaire's system" meme. However, the flip side of that argument - the Wild breaking out the spreadsheets and charts to "prove" to Gaborik that he scores as may goals per minute as the top players in the league - so it can't be that he's being held back in Minnesota - smacks of spin and desperation.
I also feel like it's a bad idea to give any one player that much control over the team - as either acceding to Gaborik's guaranteed money demands or jettisoning the coach would seem to do. Given the choice, and regardless of how the team plays without him in the lineup, I think the most responsible thing to do is to just draw the line in the sand and see if he blinks.
Which, surprise, surprise, is exactly what Risebrough seems to be doing.
But there's no doubt that DR has a big image problem brewing. Despite having just stated that he appears to be doing exactly what I think he should be doing, I still have this nagging feeling that I will be disappointed when this all goes down. So, if that disappointment doesn't stem from the fundamentals of how he managed the situation - or the hard lines he drew and stuck to - then what does it come from?
Afterall, Burns, Schultz, Koivu and Bouchard are all signed for nice, multi-year, cap-friendly deals. Despite distinct rumblings to the contrary among the punditry (of which I am one), Sheppard is about to begin his second year with the team, Gillies just made the team, Pouliot is about to embark on his own maiden voyage, and Harding is still at least on the periphery (bad pun) of the "goalie of the future" discussion.
If the stated goal was to build the team through draft and development until it was ready to be an annual contender, then doesn't the preceding paint a pretty good picture of just that? Maybe the three playoff appearances and the one division title are the aberrations, and not the rest of this noise? Wouldn't that just rock you to the core, as a Wild fan?
I'm not sure what the worst-case scenario is. Maybe that they don't pull the trigger on a deal and Gaby blows out the groin and we're left holding the bag next July when he walks as a UFA. But the fruit of this exercise for me is that the worst-case scenario is NOT that Risebrough sends Gaborik packing.