Should We Be Worried About Gaborik's Groin?
After Aaron Portzline reported that Marian Gaborik will be having surgery to repair an "abdominal injury", should we be concerned about the long term effect on the club's newest star?
Though Blue Jackets fans were rightfully excited by the addition of Marian Gaborik, and his early hot streak of scoring, the winger seemed to be tailing off during the final week of the season, where he had just two assists over his final seven games.
The news that Gaborik required surgery at the end of the season explains a lot - and the news that it was an abdominal (read: groin) issue isn't too shocking, either, since he's battled abdominal issues all the way back to his time with the Minnesota Wild.
What raised my eyebrow, though, was the report from Thursday's Dispatch where Porty elaborated on the issue. This wasn't a new strain or hernia - it actually appears that the existing repairs may have been damaged or weakened, and need to be attended to.
Sports hernias are particularly nasty for hockey players because they affect the adductor muscles and hips, which are key parts of skating. Even worse, they have a bad habit of becoming chronic - and potentially even career ending.
I reached out to hockey injury authority Jo Innes of Backhand Shelf, and she pointed me to a recent study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
The short version? This is an injury that, if treated properly, can be overcome by most players, but the older the player is, and the longer their career, the greater risk that it will impact their performance. At 30 years old, Gaborik is at a higher risk compared to, say, Jared Boll, who is also having a hernia repaired this summer, but he's not as bad off as a player in his mid to late 30s having the same work done.
At the same time, he's already been in the NHL for ten years, and it seems likely that the risk of re-injury will go up. For a player who we're hoping will be a major component of the club's offense, you don't like reading phrases like "clear statistical decline" and "increasing risk of re-aggravating". You have to think that the Roster Viking and JD are being advised of this by the club's medical staff.
Gaborik can easily be a game-changer when healthy, and there's no argument that he gives the club a major offensive threat when he hits the ice, but I wouldn't be shocked if the club signed him to a relatively modest extension - I'd bet three years at most - while they keep an eye on how his health impacts his play once he completes his rehab.