Thomas Vanek spoke his mind often in his 47-game stint with the Islanders last season. After spurning two separate contract offers from the Isles, one last January and one on July 1, Vanek revealed Tuesday that the Isles' pending move to Brooklyn factored in his decision.
"The one thing I didn't like was the move to Brooklyn," Vanek said before his Wild team faced the Islanders, Vanek's first and last trip back to the Coliseum since his time here. "I think if the rink would have been built here, there was probably a good chance I still would be here."
Vanek turned down a seven-year, $50-million offer from the Islanders in January 2014, three months after Garth Snow sent fan favorite Matt Moulson and a first-round pick to the Sabres for Vanek.
Snow traded Vanek at the 2013-14 trade deadline to the Canadiens for a second-round pick and a prospect, then tried to lure Vanek back on the first day of free agency with a three-year, $21-million offer. Vanek took three years and $19.5 million from the Wild, going back to the city where he played college hockey and where his wife is from.
For those reasons, the sellout Coliseum crowd greeted Vanek with a few boos Tuesday -- even though the current Isles roster would look vastly different had Vanek accepted either offer. He came into the game with 19 goals and 30 assists, second in scoring for the Wild.
"Even though it was a short stint, I only have good memories and good things to say," said Vanek, who had 44 points in 47 games with the Isles. "The thing is I would have stayed had the team stayed here on the Island and not moved. But other than that it was a great time.
"This is a building I didn't like coming to, but once I was here, it's one of my favorite buildings now. The fans are great here. The building gets loud. As far as family-wise I think it would be tough for my kids, my wife to go to Brooklyn on game days. I didn't see that fit. Hopefully it works out and I was wrong. But at the time it kind of scared me off."
De Haan back in
Calvin de Haan returned to the lineup Tuesday night after sitting out as a healthy scratch on Saturday. Matt Donovan was the scratch. Jack Capuano said Lubomir Visnovsky (undisclosed) was still not ready to return and Mikhail Grabovski (concussion) was no longer skating after resuming on-ice workouts last week.