Kings' Marian Gaborik returns to Columbus to face former teammates

Kings forward Marian Gaborik is playing in Columbus for the first time since his trade from Blue Jackets

For Marian Gaborik, it’s not quite the Return to Minnesota or the Return to New York.

Those were far bigger deals for the talented winger. Monday night’s game against the Blue Jackets represents Gaborik’s first trip back to Columbus since he was traded to the Kings by the Blue Jackets at last year’s trade deadline.

Gaborik’s stay in Columbus – 34 games over parts of two seasons – was like a brief pit stop, unlike his tenures with the Minnesota Wild and the New York Rangers.

“I really didn’t spend a whole lot of time here,” Gaborik said after Monday’s morning skate. “I really enjoyed the guys. They have a good team, I think, going in the right direction.”

Kings center Jeff Carter, another former Blue Jacket player, is not remembered warmly when he has played here with the Kings, getting booed almost every time he touches the puck.

What kind of reception is Gaborik expecting?

“I can’t control it. We’ll see,” he said. “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.”

This is the finale of the Kings’ five-game trip and they will be without defenseman Alec Martinez, who was injured on Saturday in the first period against Tampa Bay. Martinez was suffering from concussion-like symptoms, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said.

Martinez flew home on Sunday, according to the Kings’ hockey operations department. It made sense since Martinez was not going to play in Monday’s game and that presumably he could be examined by team doctors back in Los Angeles.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times