When the lockout became official, there was a mass exodus of NHL talent to Europe. An now, one of those talents is coming home.
Thomas Vanek played 15 games for the Graz 99ers, scoring 5 goals and 10 assists, but as the Austrian League breaks for international play, Vanek is returning home, most likely for good. His contract with the 99ers ends today, and one of his final games came against Tyler Myers and Klagenfuter AC.
The Austrian tour was a homecoming for Vanek, an Austrian hockey hero and popular national icon. Though he'll be coming home for a while, if the lockout continues to drag on, the door is open for Vanek to return to the 99ers, according to an interview by Bill Hoppe with Austrian writer Chris Schleifer. However, with CBA talks making progress, I wouldn't be surprised to see Vanek stay with his wife and three children.
Vanek took to Twitter today to thank the Austrian fans, and his 99ers teammates. With the promising news coming out over the weekend about continued CBA talks, it's nice for Sabres fans to know that their #1 offensive threat has been spending time playing competitive professional hockey, and most importantly, is returning home uninjured.