Thomas Vanek has just recently rejected an offer from the New York Islanders. NHL.com reported Monday that Vanek turned down an offer believed to be similar to his seven-year, $50 million contract which expires at the end of the 2013-14 season. The NHL trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and with the Olympics also right around the corner, the time is now to start talking about the future.
We obviously do not hear all sides of the story when it comes to contract negotiations with athletes. Money changes a persons perspective, as well as winning. It’s been publicly known that certain players do not want to play for the New York Islanders. Not too long ago you could hear Evgeni Nabokov exclaiming that he would not report to camp because he didn’t want to play for the Isles. He later denied it saying there were family obligations… but lets call a spade a spade. The Islanders are one of the laughing stocks of the NHL. The dynasty days are gone, and frankly, so is the spark that this team used to bring to the ice. In a salary cap move, Tim Thomas was signed to the Islanders last year and did not play. All of a sudden he is back this year with the Panthers. Did he really want to finish out his sabbatical, or was it the smell of fish sticks that turned his stomach?
When it comes to being a professional athlete, the main goal (should be) winning. Winning in any legal, respectable way possible. The other side of that is cashing in that pay check. To be considered one of the best, you have to get paid the best. Sports are all about royalty now a days and less about loyalty. The days of wearing the jersey and worrying about whats on the front and not the back are long gone. It’s rare to find a player who finishes their career with the team that they started with, and a lot of that has to do with where the money is.
The media plays a large role on where a player plays as well. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston are tough towns to play in. One day you are the fans MVP, and the next game you are the social pariah followed by angry town folk with pitch forks and fire. Some players can’t handle it, while others flourish in the limelight. Those are notoriously also the cities where the major stars make the most money… there’s no such thing as a coincidence in sports.
Thomas Vanek is going to be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. That’s a very interesting position to be in especially with him putting up the numbers that he is right now. Would he be putting up those same numbers in Minnesota? Perhaps… he wouldn’t have JT and Assistant Captain America Kyle Okposo, but he would be most likely playing on the same line as Niederreiter and Coyle. Islander fans are upset with the Vanek situation, and to some degree rightfully so. Matt Moulson won many hearts while on the island, and the abrupt trade to Buffalo for Vanek left some open wounds for Isles fans. Especially knowing that this trade meant giving up not only Moulson but a first-round pick in 2014 and a second-round pick in 2015, and no guarantee that Vanek would continue with the Islanders after this season. Vanek has every right to do what’s best for him and his family, and if that means using the island as a stepping stone to the next team in his career, so be it. I hope the Islanders and Steve Bartlett, Vanek’s agent can work something out. There’s one year left for the Islanders to play in the Nassau Coliseum before they move to Brooklyn where a new arena is a good chance to lure some new blood into the team.