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January 14, 2008

Marian Gaborik

DAVID KEON: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm David Keon of the National Hockey League's public relations department, and I'd like to welcome you to today's call. With us we have Minnesota Wild forward Marian Gaborik. Thanks to Marian for taking the time today to answer your questions. And thanks to Aaron Sickman of the Minnesota Wild public relations department for arranging the call.
Earlier today Marian was voted First Star for the week ending January 13th after recording eight points on four goals and four assists, plus one shootout-winning goal as the Wild won three of four games for the week.
Marian was also named First Star on December 24th and also Third Star on November 5th.
Last week Marian was named to the Western Conference All-Star Team for the 2008 NHL All-Star game that will be held in Atlanta the weekend of January 27. He leads the Wild and sits 18th overall in the National Hockey League with 47 points on 25 goals and 22 assists in 40 games. Minnesota is first in the Northwest Division with a record of 26-17-2 for 54 points. They host Calgary Wednesday and Anaheim Friday at the Xcel Energy Center before they head out on a three-game West Coast road trip that will take them into the All-Star break. Thanks to Marian for his time today. We'll open it up for questions.

Q. When you look at the standings right now, you guys are first in your division based on wins, and yet you're only, I think, four points ahead of a team that's not even out of the playoffs. The West has always been tough since the lockout but it seems to be even tougher this year. Can you just talk about the challenge of competing in the Western Conference?
MARIAN GABORIK: Well, it's always tight, you know, especially our division as well as the whole Western Conference. Always the games are so tight, and it's tight hockey. You know, every point counts, and now we have a small home stretch, so we have to make sure that we get as many points as possible, especially against like Calgary and all these teams.

Q. How important is it to win your division? Do you consider it something that can give you an advantage?
MARIAN GABORIK: Well, definitely. I mean, last year we didn't win the division by I don't know, like two points, I think, and it's huge. You gain that third place, whatever, and you play -- last year we were eight and we played seven, we played Anaheim. It's huge. Especially now second half we just have to make sure that we stay consistent and try to win as many games as possible.

Q. Are you happy to be going back to the All-Star game? It's a nice reward for a nice season?
MARIAN GABORIK: Yeah, definitely. I mean, it's very exciting that I was selected, and I'm looking forward to that. Of course I wouldn't have been able to do it without the help of my teammates, so they deserve it, as well, and I am thankful and excited and looking forward to that.

Q. Any memories from your last time you were there so maybe you'll be able to appreciate it a little bit more this time?
MARIAN GABORIK: Well, it was fun. It was in Florida I remember, and just to play in the game with all the guys together, and it was just a fun weekend. So I'm sure it's going to be the same way this time.
Finally I've played most of the games in the first half in the past couple years, so hopefully I can stay healthy and keep it up.

Q. You've had quite a productive week, and I know last week when you guys were on the road Jacques was talking a little bit about you weren't playing quite as much, and he just wanted more production and more of an effort out of you. Was there anything last week specifically that kind of got you going at all?
MARIAN GABORIK: Well, I mean, you know, that game in Nashville of course wasn't a great game for us, and for myself, as well. We lost 4-1. You go on the ice and you're -3 first period, it doesn't help you, of course, and it doesn't help your confidence. It wasn't a good game and I wasn't playing as much, so I wasn't happy about that.
I just wanted to come back and make sure that I tried to go out there and play my best and work hard, and that's what I did. Since then things changed a bit.

Q. Has Jacques over the course of your career, do you think he's been hard on you as far as trying to get as much as he can out of the talent you have?
MARIAN GABORIK: I mean, you know, he's the only coach I've experienced in the NHL. He's done a lot for this team and for myself, as well. You know, we had a little bit of some arguments sometimes, but it's all good. He's a good coach, and he wants to try to get the best out of any player. That's how he is.

Q. Two questions for you. First of all, your career is almost divided in half in terms of the first three years you barely missed a game, but the last few years you had some issues with recurring injury. I'm wondering, I guess, how your health is now and if you've changed -- if anything has changed in your routine and preparation so that you can stay healthy heading in towards the playoffs.
MARIAN GABORIK: Yeah, changed quite a few things. I feel pretty good right now. I changed workout over the summer and also during the season and changed preparation a bit in terms of different warmup and making sure that I move every time I go on the ice. I have a lot of massages, and just basically my groin and my legs overall, they have to feel loose and not tight before I jump on the ice. That's the key for me. That's what I try to do, and just preparation before the game and practices are the key, so that changed.

Q. And take me back to the Ranger game last month and describe for me, I guess, sort of the mood on the bench. It really seemed the last few minutes they were trying their darndest to feed you the puck, to get you that sixth goal.
MARIAN GABORIK: Yeah, it was unbelievable. The whole game was amazing. The 5 on 3 that we have at the end there, the guys had a chance to shoot, and they just kept feeding me, and it was great. It was just a great feeling that they tried to get me that sixth goal. Overall it was an amazing night. I had a lot of fun.

Q. You were talking earlier, asked some questions about Jacques Lemaire's motivational tactics, and does it bother you when it goes public like that? Was that something that was common in Slovakia when you played before, that coaches would do that kind of thing?
MARIAN GABORIK: Not really. He is my first coach here, so I don't talk to him as much. I try not to pay attention to like newspaper and all this stuff, or any kind of motivational thing or anything. I knew I had to change some things myself, and especially when you're minus play for a couple games. So I try to do that. Between me and him, kind of it happened, that media stuff that happened with that, and it was kind of public and basically it seemed like we passed through the media. But I knew what I had to do, but it was a little bit -- media put a word into that, and it happened like that.

Q. And my other question is you're talking about the Northwest Division division being as tough as it is. You're talking about all the teams fighting for first place. What team in the division with their style or their game is giving you the most concern so far and what are you most concerned about inside the division?
MARIAN GABORIK: Well, the division is always hard. I think it's the hardest division in the league. Just the games in Calgary, Vancouver, they're always tight, and it's always huge games, huge rivalries, and it's always physical games. You know, any time we can get any wins from those games, it's very important wins. As I said, it's always tight and the games are always dynamic and physical. We have Calgary next game, so hopefully we can get two points.

Q. This is the second or third time you've picked up a Star of the Week award. How meaningful are these weekly awards to you?
MARIAN GABORIK: Well, it's always nice, and I appreciate this award. It only happens when we're winning, and that's the most important thing. You know, just have to keep it up and hopefully get a few down the road.

Q. You were talking about you're trying to keep healthy with the injuries. How has your workout routine changed during the season to keep you from aggravating the injuries?
MARIAN GABORIK: I changed some workouts significantly during the off-season and as well during the season. Just doing some different stuff, doing some different leg work and upper body stuff and just most importantly to change warmup routine and make sure I have to be loose all the time and try to have my groin loose and my legs overall loose. That's important.

Q. Going back to the things going between you and Jacques Lemaire, is it something like this that gets you up to say, see, I really am doing a great job?

Q. You win this award here, and you can joke to everybody and say, see, I am doing really well?
MARIAN GABORIK: I don't think he cares too much about that, if I win an award or not. Most important thing, I'm sure I want the team to win and he wants the team to win. That's the bottom line. If I'm doing -- if I'm working hard and trying to be the best player out there on the ice, I think we have a good chance to win games, so that's what I have to do.

Q. A couple of guys were asking about your health. The fact that you're finally feeling healthy now for an extended amount of time, you're on pace for having a career season. Do the two things kind of go hand in hand?
MARIAN GABORIK: Yeah, definitely. I feel good right now, so hopefully I can stay healthy. That's important for me and I think for the whole team, that if I'm healthy I can perform and help the team to win. You know, I feel good.
DAVID KEON: Thanks very much for your time today. Thanks, everyone for joining us.

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