Each year, The Hockey News publishes what it calls it’s “Bucks and Pucks” issue. This year’s edition hits newsstands next week with former Stampede player Thomas Vanek on the cover. According to The Hockey News, the cover story “examin[es] what life is like for Buffalo Sabres left-winger Thomas Vanek after his new contract makes him a $50-million man.”
Vanek played for the Stampede its first three seasons (1999-2002) before going on to the University of Minnesota. His freshman season the Gophers won the national championship with Vanek scoring the game-winning goals. He was the first round draft choice of the Sabres a couple months later and signed with the team after his second year of college hockey.
Vanek earned $942,000 in each of his first two seasons in the NHL. This summer, the Edmonton Oilers offered him a seven-year, $50 million contract. The Sabres matched the offer to keep Vanek, who led the NHL in plus/minus and was 7th in the league with goals scored with 43. For salary cap purposes, Vanek is reportedly being paid $10 million of the salary this year, one of only three players in the league who will earn that much this year.
In addition to the Hockey News cover story, last week Vanek was the subject of an “up close and personal” feature story on Inside the NHL on HDNet.
Vanek’s teams reinforce that hockey season is kicking into high gear for fans. The Sabres play tonight, Stampede play at home both tonight and tomorrow and the Gophers have their first WCHA games tonight and tomorrow.
Nothing like a big contract and some serious media attention to add a little pressure. Maybe a financial contribution toward better hockey facilities here in Sioux Falls might help ease any psychological burden.
I want to establish myself being on the ice and being a part of the team first. I’ll try to establish myself as the go-to guy sometime in the future.
Thomas Vanek, Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle, 2005