On Monday, Ryan Carter said, there was no question. The numbers simply weren't in his favor.
"Thomas caught like more species and bigger fish today, so I'll have to tip the cap to him," Carter said, back on the land after spending hours out on the water.
Vanek and Carter were two of a group of local athletes and celebrities who attended the Twins and Fins fishing tournament on Monday, hosted by the Minnesota Twins, and Twins pitchers Glen Perkins and Kyle Gibson. Former Minnesota Wild defenseman Jordan Leopold was also a participant.
Perkins, who attended the University of Minnesota, and is a Stillwater native, had a personal connection to the cause. His college pitching coach, Todd Oakes, died in May after a four-year battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
"It's cool the impact that he was able to have," Perkins said. "It's kind of in his memory this year, so it's a little bittersweet, but it's still a good thing. It's fun to be out here — a nice day — and raise some money. It always feels better to give back."
Carter and Vanek, both longtime Minnesota residents, are no strangers to fishing, and no strangers to Lake Minnetonka, where the tournament on Monday was hosted.
"Today (I was the better fisherman), but overall I think he's still ahead of me," Vanek said.
Vanek estimated his boat caught about 20 fish, but none of them were large enough for his team to win when it came time for the post-tournament weigh-in.
"We caught a walleye too, which we were hoping was a bass, but it wasn't," Vanek said. "But it was fun, especially how the morning started — pretty rainy on the drive here, and then all of a sudden it opened up, and turned out to be nice. It was a little windy, but mostly a sunny day, so it was great."
Carter didn't blame the conditions for his boat's lack of a haul, but did reference them in some regard.
"Fishing was tough for us," he said. "It was pretty windy. I don't like fishing in the wind; I don’t do well in the wind. But other than that, it was nice. I didn't catch a ton of fish, but it was fun."
Both Wild forwards agreed events like the one on Monday are a great way for Minnesota athletes to help give back, the true spirit of the tournament.
"I know that when the Wild have things going on, we appreciate when other people come and help out, too," Carter said. "It's nice to be around and have the opportunity to help guys out, and Glen with this tournament, and for Thomas and me, and it was fun.
"It's kind of pretty crazy to think about, yeah, you get asked to go fishing, and it's raising money for a good cause."
Vanek Feeling Better
After missing four of the last five games of the regular season, and all six of the Wild's first round Western Conference playoff games with a broken and detached rib, Vanek said he's feeling much better and progressing through his offseason schedule.
"I feel pretty good," he said. "I've been working out and doing everything. As far as the broken rib I had, there's still times I feel it, but it's healing up. It's going in the right direction."
Vanek said prior to Game 4 of the Wild's series against the Dallas Stars he felt he was getting close to a return. He reiterated that sentiment on Monday, and said though it would have been tough to put an exact date on it, he was just waiting to get cleared medically.
"The reason I couldn't play, or they wouldn't let me play, is not only the broken, but it was a displaced rib," Vanek said. "It was pretty close to being [detatched]. I don't think it was close to being healed, but with a broken rib, you can play. The displacement is what you're not allowed to play with."
Now Vanek is gearing up for the next Wild season, and also to participate in the 2016 World Cup, which begins Sept. 17 in Toronto. Vanek is a part of Team Europe, along with Wild teammate Nino Niederreiter, who was named to the roster during the final round of player additions last week.
"It's exciting that he made it," Vanek said. "I had a pretty good idea he would be on the team, so I'm glad he's there so there's the two of us."
With Niederreiter abroad to watch the French Open, Vanek hasn’t officially gotten the chance to congratulate his new World Cup teammate yet.
"I tried, but he hasn’t gotten back to me," Vanek said. "I have to get his European phone number here."