Kurtis Gabriel might be getting antsy. A week has passed since the Wild's fourth-line forward has thrown a punch and warmed the penalty box with another fighting penalty.
The team's new enforcer has been involved in four fights in eight games since being called up to the Wild Dec. 1. Those four fights were in a span of five games and 10 days.
In three NHL appearances last season, Gabriel was involved in two fights in only three games. He has gotten into 31 American Hockey League fights and 37 Ontario Hockey League fights. To keep up with his reputation, Gabriel might be due for another fight Tuesday night when the Wild host Colorado.
This aggressive approach to the game isn’t always necessary, a new Wild parody suggests. MN Wild Parodies released this week a new song for Gabriel entitled “You Don’t Have to Take Your Gloves Off.”
Here are some of the lyrics:
“You don’t have to take your gloves off to get ice minutes, oh no.”
“Zero goals, one assist. Yet 22 minutes in the box you sit.”
“A quick hit, that’s your game. But you’re not a piece of meat, need to save your brain!”
“Just remember that we’re not at war. If you stay out on the ice, maybe then you’ll score.”
“Yeah I know you want to make a name, but there’s more to your game.”
These are funny lyrics, but Gabriel’s value to the Wild since arriving has been his commitment to protecting his teammates and he’s OK with that.
“It’s me making a name for myself in this league,” Gabriel told the Star Tribune. “I made a name for myself down [in the minors], but this is another animal. I want to gain the respect of the other guys that do the job but also let them know you’re not going to take any [idiocy]. When I get into a fight, I’m trying to hurt them. If they’re trying to hurt me, I’m trying to hurt them back.”
During Gabriel’s brawl with St. Louis enforcer Ryan Reaves Dec. 11, Fox Spots North broadcaster Anthony LaPanta said “This time, the Wild has a guy willing to go toe-to-toe with [Reaves].”
The fight ended with Gabriel connecting a few punches and ramping up the crowd on his way to penalty box.
LaPanta added “[Wild coach] Bruce Boudreau talked on the last road trip about [Gabriel’s] fight with Zack Kassian in Edmonton being the momentum changer that Minnesota needed to get that trip going in their favor. They wound up beating the Oilers that night. [Gabriel then] fought [Roman] Polak in Toronto and the Wild won that night.
“[Boudreau] said [recently] that having his presence on the ice makes everyone feel a little safer and a little bigger when they play the game.”
According to voters on HockeyFights.com, Gabriel has only won one of the four fights he’s been in involved with this season. But in the eyes of the Wild, he’s 4-0 because the Wild is 4-0 in each game he’s fought.
Watch Gabriel’s four fights with “You Don’t Have to Take Your Gloves Off” playing in the background: