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Wild star upset by lack of progress

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- All-Star holdout Marian Gaborik returned
to Minnesota this month hoping for a deal that would get him back
in uniform. Now, he's leaving again.

Two long meetings with Wild management have done nothing to
resolve his contract status, Gaborik said Monday in a statement
through his agent.

"I am very disappointed with these developments, especially
after last season's successful playoff run," he said.

The statement didn't say whether Gaborik was headed back to his
native Slovakia.

General manager Doug Risebrough said he hadn't seen the
statement. He wouldn't comment, except to say that Gaborik and
agent David Schatia "must be dealing exclusively with the media."

The statement didn't say whether Gaborik was headed back to his
native Slovakia, and Schatia wouldn't comment on his client's
whereabouts.

Gaborik, 21, Minnesota's first-ever draft pick and only All-Star
selection, became a restricted free agent after leading the team
with 30 goals in 2002-03, his third NHL season.

The Wild's initial offer to Gaborik -- a four-year contract worth
$9.5 million, starting at $1.5 million per season -- was turned down
by agent Allan Walsh in June, and the stalemate began.

Two days before training camp, Minnesota offered a three-year
deal worth $9.5 million -- including an annual average of $3.15
million in base salary and a chance for Gaborik to earn an
additional $1.75 million in performance bonuses.

Walsh also declined that proposal, telling the team that Gaborik
was prepared to sit out the season if he didn't get a three-year
contract worth at least $6.5 million per season.

Walsh said the Wild made between $12 million and $14 million in
unexpected revenue from the playoffs last season, when Minnesota
advanced to the Western Conference finals. Gaborik had 17 points,
third among all teams, in the 2003 postseason.

In the statement, Gaborik said that he lowered his price a few
days ago -- to an amount equaling the total he earned in base salary
and incentives last season and the one before. That's just under
$4.5 million per season, Schatia said.

"He said, 'Look, give me that and I'll sign and we'll get on
with this,"' Schatia said.

A native of Trencin, Slovakia, Gaborik was selected by the Wild
with the third overall choice in 2000. He played this fall for
Dukla Trencin, a team in his hometown.

Saying on Oct. 13 he wanted to "bring new blood" into the
talks, Gaborik instructed Schatia, Walsh's partner, to take the
lead on the negotiations. Two days later, Gaborik left Slovakia for
the Twin Cities.

But the two sides aren't any closer now.

"Will a deal get done? I hope so, for everyone's sake,"
Schatia said Monday. "Will a deal get done immediately? I have my
doubts.

"He's not pleased, and that's where we are. The next move will
be the passage of time, and we'll have to see where it goes."

Schatia stressed that the statement was solely Gaborik's and not
of his influence.

"He crafted it in his own head," Schatia said. "It's 100
percent his. ... It's just an example of Marian's resolve, his way
of getting things done."