Hockey winger Thomas Vanek was in New York federal court as part of an ongoing gambling investigation.
A few media publications said Vanek was not actually charged with any crime. Reporters say he appeared in front of the court voluntarily. But the news has spurred controversy, as fans are disappointed to hear about yet another sports scandal.
The Minnesota Wild winger and former Buffalo Sabre and Rochester Americans already has a pretty bad reputation, but the latest information published in international news could tarnish it even further.
Just a witness
Sports fans watch with disappointment as a new National Hockey League (NHL) scandal is about to unravel. Vanek’s appearance in court is said to be tied to an incident in June, when three owners and managers of the Marina Restaurant and Bar in Charlotte, New York were accused of breaking American gambling laws, charged with money laundering and arrested.
Thomas Vanek was born on January 19, 1984, in Austria’s capital Vienna. He’s been playing in the NHL from 2005 and in 2006-07 he won the Bud Light Plus-Minus Award.
The police accused the three men of running an illegal gambling business out of the bar and added that this had been going on since January 2012.
Vanek was quoted by online newspapers saying: “Representatives of the US Federal Government have asked for my cooperation in an investigation. I am not the subject of any investigation or prosecution. I will fully cooperate with the US Federal authorities in their investigation or in any proceedings arising out of it.”
The NHL doesn’t know much about the case yet either and said it was “looking into it”. The Wild released a statement saying the team “aware of Thomas Vanek’s cooperation with a federal investigation”.
The sportsman’s agent Steve Bartlett made it very clear that his client was merely a witness, but he refused to make any more comments about the case itself. “If you’re a witness in a federal proceeding, you are told not to talk about it,” he explained.
But just to make it clear, Bartlett told reporters:” “He won’t be charged with a crime because he hasn’t done anything wrong.”
While Vanek’s agent and hockey officials are trying to tell sports fans that there is no need to panic, the media always has its skeptics and many are doubting his innocence.
Sure, the investigation primary focuses on restaurant owners, but the name Nathan Paetsch also came up. In case you don’t know who he is, we’ll tell you. Paetsch is Vanek’s former Sabres teammate from 2005 to 2010, who is reportedly “involved in a partnership” with the owners of the venue.
Rumor has it the three managers were taking illegal bets on sports in the US state of New York and nobody knows if and how Vanek is linked to the whole story. For now, it looks like fans have no reasons to panic or to suspect their favorite players of anything, as both his agent and officials have repeatedly confirmed that he has not broken any laws.
How the Austrian became an NHL star
The 30 year-old professional hockey winger is the highest drafted Austrian in NHL history. He played for the Rochester Americans in 2004-05, scoring 68 points in 74 games.
After that, he went on and joined the Buffalo Sabres for nine seasons before being traded last season to the Islanders, then the Canadiens. On July 1, the hockey star signed a three-year deal with the Minnesota Wild. His contract is worth a total of $19.5 million.
With 277 goals throughout his NHL career, Vanek ranks eighth in the NHL. He joined the league in the 2005-06 season. His 113 power-play goals rank third over the same period of time.
We expect more details about the latest illegal betting scandal where Thomas Vanek served as a witness will come to light in the near future.