Slightly different tune.
“For me the biggest thing was Minnesota just wasn’t a good fit,” Vanek told the Buffalo News over the weekend. “It is what it is. There’s no rhyme or reason for it. It didn’t work out.”
Though this assessment was pretty obvious — the Wild certainly agreed, buying Vanek out of the last year of his contract in June — it’s still interesting to see Vanek sum up his time in Minnesota so succinctly.
A former star with the Golden Gophers that helped the school capture the 2003 NCAA championship, Vanek scored 21 goals in his first year with the Wild, only to disappear in the playoffs (no goals in 10 games).
Then there was the distraction of his ties to an illegal gambling ring.
This year, things went further south. He scored a career low 18 goals and 41 points. He was made a healthy scratch on a few occasions — by both Mike Yeo and John Torchetti — and didn’t play at all in the postseason, while dealing with an upper-body injury.
To be fair, Vanek had danced around the notion of Minnesota being a bad fit before. There was that time he sort of complained about the Wild’s centers, saying “If I wanted points and goals, I would have signed with the Islanders and had a center like Johnny [Tavares] and a winger like Kyle [Okposo].”
Vanek then doubled down by saying “we don’t have maybe the strongest depth in the middle.”
Now on a one-year deal with Detroit, the 32-year-old figures he’s in a much better situation. Vanek told the News he should benefit from the fact the Red Wings play “with smaller skilled guys,” adding a return to the Eastern Conference “is going to help me.”