The Wild have been in a death spiral ever since Marian Gaborik left the organization three years ago.

In fact, it was an injury to Gaborik in October of 2008, his last season here, that dramatically changed the course of Wild history. All those memories came back as the best and most exciting player in Wild history skated into town with the New York Rangers. He scored his 38th goal of the season as the Rangers won 3-2 on Tuesday night, March 27.

"I don't look back," Gaborik said afterward.

Here's how close we came to avoiding this current mess: Gaborik returned from hip surgery on March 22 of 2009. Before that, he had played in just a handful of games. He skated in the final 11 contests that season and scored 10 goals. The hard-charging Wild, beset with injuries after winning the Northwest Division championship in 2007-08, missed the playoffs by a measly two points. They were eliminated on the next-to-last day of the season.