The New York Islanders’ upcoming move to Brooklyn did not pique the interest of Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek.
In fact, the former Islander admitted Tuesday that franchise’s decision to relocate played a significant role in his decision not to sign a contract extension with the club.
“The one thing I didn’t like was the move to Brooklyn,” Vanek told reporters before the Wild’s game against the Islanders. “I think if the rink would have been built here, it should be here on the island. There was probably a good chance I still would be here.
“I only have good memories and good things to say [about the Islanders]. The thing is I would have stayed had the team stayed here on the island and not moved [to Brooklyn]. But other than that it was a great time.”
The Islanders paid a steep price to acquire Vanek, who was in the final year of his contract, from the Buffalo Sabres last season.
In exchange for Vanek, the Islanders sent forward Matt Moulson, a 2014 first-round pick and a second-round pick in 2015 to the Sabres. The veteran forward played 47 games with New York, registering 17 goals, 27 assists and plus-4 rating.
Vanek said he had great memories of his tenure in Long Island, but the 31-year-old didn’t think Brooklyn would be a good fit for his family.
“This is a building I didn’t like coming to, but once I was here … it’s one of my favourite buildings now,” he said. “The fans are great here. The building gets loud. I don’t know. 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.”
Once the Islanders realized they were not going to reach an agreement on a new contract with Vanek, they dealt him to the Montreal Canadiens before the 2013-14 trade deadline.
After a short stint in Montreal, Vanek signed a three-year, $19.5 million deal with the Wild as a free agent this past July.