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INSIDE SCOOP: Thomas Vanek

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
(The questions below were submitted by fans through and the Weekly Report, a weekly recap that is delivered to Sabres Insider's email.)

What would you be doing today if you were not a professional hockey player? Sarah K, North Tonawanda, NY

Thomas Vanek: I would probably still be in school trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.

What's the biggest challenge a rookie faces coming into the NHL? Jeff Hancock, Avon, NY

TV: Consistency, having to get used to the fast pace of the game and just playing each night at the same level.

When you are selected to be in a shootout, what do you do to prepare in those couple of minutes before shooting? Jamie Amacher, East Amherst, New York

TV: Nothing really. The coach says your name right before you go up, so you just have to go out there and do what you can. I usually just make up my move as I'm skating down to the goal.

Do you notice an increase of support/interest on you, as a player, from the Austrian press agencies or fans? Heimo Haub, Graz, Austria

TV: Definitely. It even started last year with the success I had in Rochester, and continued with the success this team is having that I'm part of. The more and more we're winning; the more and more the press is coming from back home.

Which goal was your favorite that you scored this year? Bryan Zymanek, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin

TV: I think my first goal. The first one will always be special and remembered forever.

Do you ever have the time to check back with your teams of the past? Denzil Smith, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

TV: Absolutely. I'm still in touch with my junior team and I still have a lot of friends on my college team and even with teams back home. I'm pretty close with some of my friends, I still follow the Austrian league and stuff like that, so yes.

When did you first learn how to skate? Courtney Smith

TV: Young, like 2 or 3. My dad played pro hockey, so I pretty much started skating when I was walking.

Do you ever get nervous before a game? Sarah Koithan, North Tonawanda, NY

TV: No, not really.

What motivates or inspires you to play hockey? Sarah Koithan, North Tonawanda, NY

TV: I think at the early age, it's just the drive to become a pro hockey player. Now that I am one, I think the ultimate goal is to win a Stanley Cup.

Where is your favorite place to play on the road, and why? Collin Mehl, Pittsford, NY

TV: Minnesota, because I played college hockey there and I have a lot of friends there. It's always a fun place to play.

How was the transition of moving to small rural community in Alberta, Canada at a young age to play hockey? Luke Peterson Calgary, Alberta, Canada

TV: It was good. Being in a smaller city is easier to transition. As a young kid, you're not in a big city, so it's easier to get around making it a good transition.

With veteran leaders like Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, is it easy to learn the ins and outs of the game that are tough things for a coach to teach? Adam McGoldrick, Tonawanda, NY

TV: I think all the older guys have been really helpful, and not only for me, but for Pominville and Gaustad and all the other young guys. It's just a good chemistry we have here and the older guys are helping us come along pretty well.

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