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Vanek, with Canadiens, back in Buffalo

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- Montreal Canadiens forward Thomas Vanek made his return here Saturday, while a member of his third team this season.

Vanek was traded by the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 27 to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson, a first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in 2015.

Making his first trip back to the city he called home for more than eight seasons was a bit strange.

Thomas Vanek
Left Wing - MTL
GOALS: 21 | ASST: 33 | PTS: 54
SOG: 201 | +/-: 0
"I don't know what to expect really," Vanek said. "All I know is there are a lot of good feelings and good memories in this building (First Niagara Center), in this town. It's something I'll cherish forever. Since last time I was here and the stint in between Montreal, guys ask me about Buffalo, I just, there's nothing bad I can really say about it."

Vanek scored 254 goals and 497 points for the Sabres. Since Vanek was traded, coach Ron Rolston and general manager Darcy Regier have been fired, former teammate Ryan Miller was traded to the St. Louis Blues, and the player he was traded for, Moulson, was traded to the Minnesota Wild.

"I think I was the last domino to fall and things started to change," Vanek said with a laugh.

Vanek spent four months with the Islanders before being traded to Montreal on March 5 in for forward prospect Sebastian Collberg and a second-round pick in 2014. With the Islanders, Vanek played on a line with captain John Tavares and wing Kyle Okposo. New York did not play at Buffalo while Vanek was with the Islanders.

"[It’s been] crazy, but a great experience," Vanek said. "Even with the Islanders it was fun. With Tavares and Okposo, I found, as a line, we were one of the most dangerous lines. It was different, exciting, weird all at the same time. Now being in Montreal it takes it to a different level."

With the Canadiens, he's on a team that has a chance to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, something that hasn’t happened in Buffalo since the 2010-11 season.

"It's been frustrating being a member of the Sabres here the last few years not getting there, not being on a team that has a chance to get in the playoffs," Vanek said. "Nowadays I think that's all I can ask for is the chance to get in, and anything can happen."

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