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Habs voice support for struggling Vanek

May 21, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

Michel Therrien AP

Thomas Vanek seemed to be the major topic of conversation for the Montreal Canadiens today, as evidenced by the transcripts we received from the NHL.

Question for Brian Gionta: When you’re a captain, and a veteran guy like Vanek is struggling, do you need to go talk to the veteran guys like that as much as young guys?

BG: The thing with this room is everybody cares, so he wants to be a big part of this team, and he is a big part of this team. So, obviously, the first two games when you lose, things are more amplified than when you are winning. So we have confidence in everybody in this room and the way guys will respond.

Question for Max Pacioretty: It seems to be tough for Vanek right now, did you have a conversation with him…to help and find his game again?

MP: He’s a veteran. He doesn’t need that. He’s contributed to this team’s success in the playoffs. He knows it. We all talk. Behind closed doors we’re all having a good team and we all want to help this team win, and we all like where we stand right now with the team. He’s fine. He’s going to be fine. It seems there’s always got to be a story when you lose, and obviously, with the questions I’m being asked, that is the story right now. But he’s a tremendous player and he’s helped us a lot in these playoffs and he’ll continue to do that.

Question for coach Michel Therrien: On Thomas Vanek practicing with the fourth line, is that a demotion or is that an attempt to balance the lines now?

MT: Don’t read too much, okay. All right. Today, don’t read too much.

Too late, coach. We’re reading into it.

We wrote yesterday on Vanek, about how his performance in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final led to a real skewering by the critics. The 30-year-old winger, a pending unrestricted free agent, does have five goals in the playoffs, but he’s been ineffective, to say the least, against the Rangers.

Yesterday, Therrien said that Vanek is “healthy,” but otherwise didn’t want to say too much.

“I’m not going to start talking about individual players because one of the reasons we’re in the conference final is that everyone’s contributed in their own way in the playoffs,” the coach said. “Thomas is a member of our team and he’s also made a contribution for us to reach the conference final.”

Related: Habs to start Tokarski again in Game 3

  1. bojangles83 - May 21, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    I watched this guy through the playoffs so far…hes been floating a lot and there are times it looks like he isnt really giving much effort.

    I hope he can turn it around but I think Montreal should let him walk at the end of the season….there are other players (maybe not this free agency) that we would be better off locking up for $50 mill +

  2. terrier92 - May 21, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Some DB GM will sign him to big contract and regret it in two years. Guy cares about the coin more than winning. Guy is a floater who shies away from contact. Not a playoff player. Have seen him year apart Bruins in the past of course that was in a meaningless November game. With that said he does have skill not sure how much heart .

    • cweez2 - May 21, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      He had a chance to sign for coin in with NYI. I don’t think it’s coin – it’s location. Minnesota has expressed interest in him, he wants to go back to his wife’s home, where he played college, etc. Too many ties with his (second) home.

      But as a 30+ forward, he can’t try to coast through. Work ethic will be an issue, especially with the Heatley bust.

      I still wonder if he isn’t injured. Snipers who are passing on open shots? Something else is going on.

      • lordfletcher - May 21, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        Minnesota doesn’t sign him, my prediction.

        Unless if Vanek is willing to take a 3 year deal… and I can’t see him doing that as it puts him in a horrible position in 3 years turning 33ish.

        Minnesota needs to figure out the goaltending situation, maybe try and bring in big mobile D, righ handed shot (impossible this summer d/t no FA’s that fit that mold) and need to focus on paying Granlund, Coyle, Nino, Brodin, others.

        Vanek sounds nice in a Wild sweater for 1, maybe 2 years… and then it screams nightmare

  3. dboldave - May 21, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    You know when Montreal acquired him I thought that was an ideal situation for someone who is set to become a free agent and looking for a big deal. A team that had plenty of guys around him that could score so he wasn’t expected to be the only threat. I really expected to see him tear it up but he isn’t consistent at all. Not sure what it is but he is costing himself money in the long run.

  4. jcmeyer10 - May 21, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Hey, if it’s any consolation, if he didn’t show up against the Bruins they would not be here so give the guy some credit.

  5. 7mantel - May 21, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    Hockey’s version of Baseball’s George Foster!

  6. gnrfan8804 - May 21, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    Shies away from the contact? Watched him for years in buffalo and was the only one who went into the corners, and was the only one standing in front of the net, taking a beating there on a nightly basis. Havent watched much of him since he was traded but he wasnt afraid of contact in buff. In fact, when that douche in boston ran over miller, it was vanek who went after him and hit him

    • dboldave - May 21, 2014 at 3:26 PM

      Vanek hit Lucic? I don’t remember that at all.

    • thesportsjudge - May 21, 2014 at 7:23 PM

      You call someone “that douche in Boston” yet, you are here with a tag of “gnrfan.” Sorry, you are the douche.

    • zetaone - May 21, 2014 at 11:09 PM

      You were watching a VERY different Vanek than I for all those years. He was NEVER a hard nosed player. He only went into the corners if there was no opposition near him. And for the most part, he stood in front of the net because cleaning up garbage and deflections is his specialty. Rarely does he score traditional “sniper” type goals.

      He’s always been a floater. You just had a romantic view of him because he was frequently the top point scorer.

  7. pjblake2redwings - May 21, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    dude goes 2 games without a goal and ppl freak and call him lazy. geeez I guess the current Art Ross trophy winner was lazy too when it came to playoffs.

    • cweez2 - May 21, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      It’s more how he played those last two games. Bad D turnover which led to a goal. Bad penalty in the offensive zone. Passing up open shot opportunities, passes to nobody, etc.

  8. blueshirtsfaithful - May 21, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    What the Habs expect? Did they watch him play when he was an islander. He’s a slow big body player with no drive to play unless he gets a breakaway.

  9. gnrfan8804 - May 21, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Yep. Vanek was the first one after lucic after he ran over miller. Not a huge hit but it was something. More than anyone else on the team did

  10. buddysguys - May 21, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    Only 6 players have more goals in the playoffs currently then him he is 7th in EV scoring this year and even after playing for 2 of the worse teams in the league this year he was one of the more consistant EV scorers this year.

    Big to do about nothing…hockey players go cold and have bad games sometimes ask the “Greatest” Player in the world Mr Crosby about that.

  11. pfhockey - May 21, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    If he was russian people will be labeling him that for sure. lol

  12. djshnooks - May 22, 2014 at 12:07 AM

    Again, Vanek is another who I have seen every game of his AHL and NHL career.

    He doesn’t seek contact, but he sure as heck doesn’t shy away from it, at all. They were just saying on the radio earlier today that he has been one of, if not the best, between 3-5 feet in front of the net. He has sick skill when he is close and he will take the punishment as much as any of them.

    I’m not sure what his issue is lately, but clearly, he has not been himself this year.

    (And it’s not the pressure…we’ve all seen him shine under the pressure in Buffalo.)

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