Some news involving Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek, courtesy News10NBC in Rochester:
A new development in the on-going federal gambling investigation in Rochester. A law enforcement source tells News10NBC that former Amerk and Buffalo Sabres star Thomas Vanek is connected to the investigation tied to the Marina Restaurant and Bar in Charlotte.
The investigation is centered around the three owners of the Rochester, NY bar (see their website here). An earlier police raid resulted in the three being arrested and booked on multiple counts of gambling and money laundering charges.
Vanek spent one season with the Rochester Americans in 2004-05 before moving on to the Buffalo Sabres the following season.
While Vanek and his lawyers did not comment as they left court on Monday, his agent, Steve Bartlett, issued this statement on Vanek’s behalf:
Representatives of the U.S. Federal Government have asked for my cooperation in an investigation. I am not the subject of any investigation or prosecution. I will fully cooperate with the U.S. Federal authorities in their investigation or in any proceedings arising out of it.
According to News10NBC, Bartlett says Vanek was in town to discuss his role as a witness in a Federal case. It’s also worth noting that, in an article appearing on the AHL Grand Rapids website last year, Nathan Paetsch — Vanek’s former Sabres teammate from 2005-10 — is reportedly “involved in a partnership” that owns the Marina Restaurant and Bar. According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, Paetsch had the Calder Cup on display at the restaurant last July after capturing it as part of the Griffins.
Update (8:45 p.m. ET): The Minnesota Wild have released a statement on Vanek. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has also made a comment, via Michael Russo of The Star Tribune:
Wild: “We are aware of Thomas Vanek’s cooperation with a federal investigation and have no further comment at this time.”
Daly: “We are looking into it, but have no comment at this time.”
Talks between Ryan Callahan and the Tampa Bay Lightning are getting a bit trickier as time ticks away towards July 1.
Callahan’s agent, Steve Bartlett, tells Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times negotiations with the team are tightening up as time whittles away towards his client becoming an unrestricted free agent.
“It’s at a critical stage where we have to find a way to close the gap,” Bartlett said.
Bartlett added that the door between the two sides won’t be closed and that even if talks go past July 1 the Lightning will have a shot at re-signing the 29-year-old forward.
That said, things get dicier starting on Wednesday when other teams can start talking with potential free agents. As for the Lightning, Callahan likes where the team is at and is headed, but unless a deal can get worked out that might not mean quite so much.
Callahan reportedly sought a seven-year, $42 million deal from the New York Rangers but reportedly brought those demands down before he was traded to Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis. He had 17 goals and 36 points in 65 games with the Rangers and Lightning last season.
So far this summer, the New York Rangers have been able to avoid going to court with most of their arbitration-eligible players. The Rangers settled up with Michael Sauer, Brian Boyle, and Brandon Dubinsky ahead of time so that an arbitrator didn’t have to settle things for them.
Going through that process can be one that puts a stress on both sides as teams can feel like one isn’t doing much for the other to help out for the greater good. The team can feel like the player is being greedy while the player can feel like the team is skimping out on paying him what he feels he’s owed.
When it comes down to these matters, settling on a deal ahead of time is preferred and it’s that gray area where the Rangers and Ryan Callahan are at now. Callahan and Rangers GM Glen Sather continue to negotiate on a deal and the two sides aren’t making progress.
Andrew Gross of Rangers Rants has the latest about the lack of movement in the negotiations.
Callahan’s agent, Steve Bartlett reported today there has not been much progress between the sides with the clock ticking towards Thursday. Essentially, Bartlett said he has submitted his proposal to the Rangers but added there has not been a lot of back and forth. The sides have exchanged briefs that are needed to prepare for an arbitration hearing. Bartlett said he he is “waiting for some response” regarding his proposal on a new deal for Callahan.
If you’re a Rangers fan and worried about how things are going, you’ve got until Thursday before Callahan’s hearing. Also remember that Brandon Dubinsky’s new four-year deal was agreed upon the morning he was due to head to court for his arbitration hearing. Instead, the Rangers locked him up for four years and $16.8 million.
Getting a deal done with Callahan is far more ideal for the Rangers’ future than potentially causing hurt feelings by going through to arbitration. The Rangers have just under $5 million in salary cap space and while it doesn’t seem likely that Callahan would get a deal that would push that limit to the brink, getting things done on their terms is in the Rangers’ best interests.