Wild's Gaborik might miss opener

Updated: September 30, 2005, 11:04 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Minnesota Wild: Forward Marian Gaborik is unlikely to start the season because of a nagging groin injury, leaving the Wild without their top player.

General manager Doug Risebrough on Friday described Gaborik's status as doubtful for Minnesota's season opener against Calgary on Wednesday. Risebrough, attending the Wild's preseason finale against Buffalo, added it's possible Gaborik could be placed on the injured list, which would force him to miss at least one week.

The four-year franchise's leading scorer, Gaborik has missed the entire preseason after hurting his groin four days prior to the start of training camp. He's attempted to practice twice, the last time on Sept. 22, when he aggravated the injury.

Detroit Red Wings: Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall will undergo surgery on his left knee and will be out four to six months, general manger Ken Holland said Friday.

Kronwall, 24, was injured when Colorado's Dan Hinote hip-checked him along the boards in an exhibition game Tuesday night.

Holland said Dr. William Clancy will perform the surgery in Aspen, Colo., after the swelling in Kronwall's knee goes down in two or three weeks. Clancy examined Kronwall on Friday.

Kronwall was slated to be one of Detroit's top four defensemen this season. The Red Wings open the season Wednesday at home against St. Louis.

Kronwall appeared in 20 games for the Red Wings in 2003-04, scoring one goal and four assists before he broke a leg. The 6-foot, 195-pound Kronwall was voted the American Hockey League's top defenseman last season during the NHL lockout. Detroit drafted the native of Sweden in the first round in 2000.

Buffalo Sabres: James Patrick's retirement didn't last long. The Buffalo Sabres' newly hired assistant coach has decided to play for Frankfurt of the German Ice Hockey League.

Patrick informed the team Friday, Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said. The change of mind came two months after Patrick announced his retirement, ending a 21-year NHL career.

Regier said Patrick got the offer to play from Frankfurt coach Rich Chernomaz, who is a family friend.

"I understand it, he wants to play, he's looking at a life experience," Regier said. "If that's something James wants to do, I have that much respect for it and understand it."

Regier added the team left Patrick a standing offer to return as coach whenever he's done playing.

Upon Patrick's retirement, the Sabres added him to their staff by creating a new position, skill development coach.

Los Angeles Kings: Left wing Ken Belanger, who has not played in the NHL since the 2002-03 season due to concussions, agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Kings on a one-year contract Friday.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Belanger, 31, has been at training camp with the Kings as a non-roster invitee. The tough guy has collected a league-leading 60 penalty minutes in four preseason games.

Belanger last played in the NHL for the Kings in 2002-03 and registered 17 penalty minutes in four games before suffering a concussion that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

Last season, Belanger appeared in one game for Adirondack of the United Hockey League.

A seventh-round pick of the Hartford Whalers in 1992, Belanger has 11 goals, 12 assists and 688 penalty minutes in 243 career games. He also has played with Toronto, the New York Islanders and Boston.

Dallas Stars: The Stars signed defenseman Mark Fistric, their first-round draft pick in 2004, to a three-year contract Friday.

Fistric, 19, was drafted 28th overall. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Fistric spent the past four years playing with Vancouver of the Western Hockey League.

Terms of the contract were not released. Fistric is expected to remain with Vancouver this season.

The Stars assigned defenseman Patrick Traverse to Iowa of the AHL, trimming their training camp roster to 26.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.

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