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INSIDE SCOOP: Thomas Vanek

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
(The questions below were submitted by Sabres Insiders through the Weekly Report. Thomas Vanek was named the POTW (11/18/05 - 11/25/05) after snapping his 14-game drought with a pair of goals on Wednesday, November 9 against Carolina. Vanek also recorded assists on Ales Kotalik's goal at 4:57 of the first in that game and Rory Fitzpatrick's goal against Montreal (11/4).)

Being a young player, who do you look up to in the dressing room, in other words who do you respect the most? Jason Z.

Thomas Vanek: Everyone, really. As a rookie, you look up to all the guys who have been here. There's not just one guy in particular, it's just pretty much everybody.

Now that you have scored your first NHL goal, is there any other firsts you are looking forward to (hat trick, playoff game, etc.) and why? Alyssa M. from Amherst, NY

TV: No, not really. I just want to continue to score and help the team win.

Do you believe all the predictions, expectations and media-hype added pressure to trying to adjust to the NHL level of play as soon as you hit the ice? Did that also contribute to any frustration you experienced as time wore on without a goal? BJ S. from Tonawanda, NY

TV: I really didn't feel any pressure. I was just trying to make the team and the most of the experience. I don't think I've played my best hockey yet, and I want to definitely improve. So no, all the talk didn't really bug me that much.

I just need to keep working hard and adjust to the speed of the game. It just takes time.

Do you feel relieved now that you've finally scored your first NHL goal? Will F. from Syracuse, NY

TV: Absolutely. It's always a special moment to get your first goal in a new league. It was just too bad it came in a loss.

I heard a story that your dad was born in Czechoslovakia. Is that true and if so, do you speak Czech? Do you speak any other languages? How difficult was it for you to move from Austria to Canada at such a young age? Lukas V. from Kunovice, Czech Republic

TV: Yes, my parents are Czech and they moved to Austria in 1982. I speak both Czech and German.

Moving to Canada was difficult the first couple of months because I didn't know English at all, only German and Czech. Once I broke the language barrier, everything was fine.

I read somewhere that your dad was a pretty good hockey player, is that true? Was that who influenced you to pursue a professional career?

TV: Yes, my dad played hockey growing up in Czechoslovakia and then professionally in Austria.

With him playing and being my coach growing up, he definitely had the most influence on my hockey career.

Have you ever played against him?

TV: At the end of practice we would mess around a little bit.

Who do you think will be Rookie of the Year? Johannes S. from Vienna, Austria

TV: I really don't know. I think (Alexander) Ovechkin is probably winning the race right now. He's having a great season, so is (Sidney) Crosby. Probably one of those two will win it.

Do you get a little more competitive when playing head-to-head with one of those two guys?

TV: Anytime you play against them, you want and try to be the best one on the ice. You always look forward to playing against other good, young players.

How do you like living in Buffalo? What kind of things do you enjoy doing here during the season? Aaron A. from Buffalo, NY

TV: I'm still adjusting to Buffalo, but so far so good. During the season I don't do much but practice, go home, watch movies and play Playstation. I play MVP Baseball and Tiger Woods Golf a lot.
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