UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek had a choice to make last season: Sign a long-term contract to stay with the New York Islanders, who paid a steep price to acquire him in a trade the previous fall, or keep open the chance to return to the state where he played college hockey for the University of Minnesota.
Some would have thought the Islanders' upcoming move to Brooklyn would have been a selling point during the negotiation process. Instead, it was leaving Nassau County that helped Vanek make up his mind. When he opted not to sign with the Islanders, they traded him to the Montreal Canadiens in March 2014. Vanek then signed a three-year deal with Minnesota on July 1.
"It was close in February  and I thought about it long and hard," Vanek said at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday. "There was two factors; I made a choice that I really wanted to go to free agency. But after being here for a while I loved it here.
"The one thing I didn't like was the move to Brooklyn. 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."