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IN HIS OWN WORDS: THOMAS VANEK

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 12:26 PM / NHL PREMIERE SERIES
By Kevin Snow  - Sabres.com
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IN HIS OWN WORDS: THOMAS VANEK
Thomas Vanek
Thomas Vanek grew up in Graz, Austria – just 388 miles from Berlin, Germany. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Vanek on Saturday night when the Sabres faceoff against the Los Angeles Kings at the O2 Arena for the first ever regular season game to be played in Berlin. Vanek, one of just three current Austrian-born NHLers and the highest-scoring of all-time, talked to Kevin Snow of Sabres.com recently to discuss the team’s historic trip to Europe.



WHAT DOES THIS TRIP MEAN TO YOU?
I’ve been really excited about this trip for a while now. From a personal standpoint, I get to see a lot of my family. But for me the biggest thing is that there are a lot of Sabres fans in Austria, especially in the last six years that I’ve been playing in here – and a lot of them don’t get to come over to Buffalo. There’s going to be a lot of people in Berlin cheering us on and I can’t wait to skate out on the ice Saturday night.

DID YOU FOLLOW THE NHL AS A KID?
There wasn’t much exposure to the NHL when I was growing up. Obviously if you were involved in hockey you know about it. All we got on TV was a weekly highlights show and that was it. I was glued to that show because that’s how we got our updates. There was no internet at that time. But over the years the game has grown a lot. There are more games on TV, more access through the internet, and that has just created more interest over all back home. As far as promoting the game in Austria, this trip will only create more buzz back home because the NHL is light years ahead of here they used to be when I was there.

HOW CAN AUSTRIAN HOCKEY IMPROVE?
The lack of youth programs is probably the biggest issue with Austrian hockey right now. I think there are kids that want to play. But it’s expensive to start with, and there aren’t enough rinks for kids to play on. In the town I grew up in – Graz – they may only have three rinks, and it’s a fairly big town. For a country like Austria to really get better over the years, get better in the World Championships -- it starts with youth hockey. They need to start building rinks and give the kids every opportunity to stay.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE PART OF THE FIRST NHL GAME IN BERLIN?
It’s tremendously exciting for not just Berlin, but for all of Europe. The game is so globalized now; the best players from everywhere play in North America. It’s been marketed so well all over the world. For a huge city like Berlin they are going to be excited, as will everyone from all the neighboring cities and countries. It’s a thrill for us to be able to go over there and play, because we know how excited everyone will be to come and watch us.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82