Sidelined by injury, Rangers star Gaborik makes anticlimatic return to Minnesota

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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Marian Gaborik returned to Minnesota, but only as a spectator.

In his first season with the New York Rangers, Gaborik has 10 goals and eight assists in 12 games. The former franchise player for the Wild is fourth in the NHL with 18 points.

Gaborik was scratched and did not dress for the Rangers' only regular-season game against Minnesota because of injury. He hurt his leg Monday night in a collision with a Phoenix player and missed a game Wednesday night against the New York Islanders.

Gaborik participated in the Rangers' morning skate in Minnesota, but wasn't able to play.

Many Minnesota fans booed when Gaborik's status was announced at Xcel Energy Center.

"It would be nice to play, but I don't want to put myself into position of it getting worse," Gaborik told reporters after the Rangers arrived Thursday night.

He said he is enjoying the experience of a new style and a new team.

"It's very exciting. So far things are good. I like the team, the guys, the organization," said Gaborik, who signed a US$37.5-million, five-year contract with the Rangers this summer. "Everything's been super so far."

He was asked if the Rangers are a better fit for his skills.

"I really like our system. We're a fast team. We're skating a lot," Gaborik said. "I think the Eastern Conference is a little different. It's not as much tight hockey, especially throughout the neutral zone."

Wild fans grew frustrated with Gaborik's inability to stay healthy, and he was occasionally booed at Xcel Energy Center in his last season.

The Rangers recalled forward Dane Byers from Hartford of the AHL on Friday. Byers was in the lineup against Minnesota.

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