By Mike Harrington
The Sabres took Wednesday off and will return to the practice ice Thursday morning in First Niagara Center to prepare for Friday's game against Boston.
While we were in Ottawa on Tuesday, I had a chance to chat with Thomas Vanek and the conversation was a rare one for both of us because it had nothing to do with his explosive start to the season.
Vanek hooked up his laptop to his TV Sunday morning to watch a Web stream of Austria's overtime loss to Germany in an Olympic qualifying tournament. Despite the loss, the Austrians qualified for Sochi and knocked the Germans out. That means Vanek -- the most decorated professional hockey player from Austria -- will almost certainly represent his homeland at the Olympics next February.
Click the YouTube above for Vanek's first goal while playing for his hometown Graz team during the lockout. Amazing crowd reaction when his name is announced as the scorer. (Wild jerseys too).
"It's huge, just huge," Vanek told me of the country's Olympic berth. "I saw when I went over there [during the NHL lockout] how the game is growing. The effort the guys put into this to get to Sochi will really raise awareness that hockey exists in Austria. It's tremendous."
For more from Vanek as well as thoughts from Austrian journalist Christian Schleifer, be sure to read my exclusive chat on the Olympics with the Sabres star in Thursday's editions.