MONTREAL – With all the speculations behind him, Thomas Vanek is now ready to help the Habs win more hockey games.
Vanek, one of the most prized commodities at the trade deadline, was snapped up by Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin at the eleventh hour from the New York Islanders. Knowing he was about to be traded for the second time since the start of the season, the sharpshooter was happy to land with the Habs, a team he has faced often over the years.
“Knowing the history behind the team, I was very happy to learn the news,” admitted Vanek, who was acquired alongside a conditional fifth round pick in the 2014 draft in exchange for prospect Sebastian Collberg and a conditional second round pick in 2014. “I’ve played in Montreal so often when I was with the Sabres and I’ve always loved coming here. The atmosphere at the Bell Centre is electric.”
Currently located in Western Canada, Vanek, set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, will rejoin his new team in Phoenix on Thursday. There, he’ll be reunited with former Buffalo Sabres teammate Daniel Briere.
Subject of many rumours and much off-ice gossip in the past months, Vanek is now focused on bringing his best game to help his new team end the season in the best way possible.
“To be honest, the past year has been difficult for my family and me,” explains the Austrian, who takes over the title of top scorer in Montreal on the strength of his 21 goals and 53 points this season. “When I started the year in Buffalo, I was just thinking about the Sabres. After I got traded to the Islanders, I was only thinking about them. The more the trade deadline approached, the more I knew there was a chance that I would be moved again. It’s been a heck of a year. I just want to help my new team win as many games as possible.”
Having not participated in the post-season since 2010-11, Vanek counts himself fortunate to join the Habs, who are in good playoff position heading down the final stretch. Having been part of a few surprising playoff runs in Buffalo, Vanek is looking forward to once against be a go-to guy for his team in the big moments.
“The most important thing is to make the playoffs and right now I have a chance to do so. This is why we play,” mentioned Vanek, who has scored 20 points in 26 career playoff games. “Anything can happen in the playoffs, especially when you have a goalie like Carey Price, who I think is one of the best in the League. I’ve played with Ryan Miller and Carey is just as good.”
Hugo Fontaine is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Jack Han
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