Reports of Austrian Hockey team Drunkenness could hinder Vanek value, places microscope on Grabner
I'm willing to bet that Garth Snow was less than happy waking up this morning regarding news for his team's 3 Olympians. Less than 24 hours after news of John Tavares' Olympic (and now reported season) ending knee injury, Austrian media and outlets around the world have picked up reports that Austria's Men's hockey team, and its stars (Islanders' Michael Grabner and Thomas Vanek, and Philadephia's Michael Raffl) over partied after their 3-1 win against Norway. The partying, it's reported, lasted well into the morning Monday. Additionally, it's claimed the team arrived to Tuesday's quarterfinal qualification game drunk.
Sweden's Aftonbladet (translated by Google in Chrome) has reported that the three NHLers have released a joint statement claiming the drinking didn't hinder their performance. They did however apologize for not being better role models. Austrian coach Manny Viveiros rejected the players statement stating disappointment in Vanek in particular.
Well, this is the sort of news story you don't want to hear when you're probably looking to trade one of the players involved. Does the partying hurt Thomas Vanek's trade value...it's debatable. Teams in the playoff hunt could be turned off by a star player looking to party after a meaningless win. This is of course conjecture, we've seen players with "rowdy" attitudes (Jeff Carter and Mike Richards spring to mind) dealt and then succeed after a trade. Again, this isn't indicative of anything with regards to Thomas Vanek. The Olympics are a once in a lifetime event for some players, it is possible this will be Vanek's first and only Olympics. Even if Vanek has Teemu Selanne longevity, it may well be that the next Austrian Olympic team may not include Vanek. The guy probably went overboard (it happens to all of us) in partying and simply chose the wrong time to go out. Had the team gone out partying after losing in qualifications with everyone prepared for the game, that'd be one thing. This situation has to me concerning to NHL GMs. Yes, Thoma Vanek is a number 1 line winger and a world class talent, but he's done nothing to help his value with this news. In fact, he may have hurt it leading up to the deadline.
These stories will add to scrutiny of Vanek from outside the Islanders Organization leading up to the trade deadline. If he's a model citizen, teams will likely be fine with the cost and expect that he'll continue to be a professional. This incident also effects the Islanders and Michael Grabner. But, since he's not on the block, the Islanders will likely handle things with him internally. The Islanders will keep a close eye on his preparedness day in and out. It's an unfortunate story, but likely to be the case given such a story on a large stage for a guy who's under 30.
It will be interesting to see how the Islanders respond. This doesn't change anything for the plan for the rest of the season and the trade deadline. We will see how this plays out for the Islanders, but I'm glad I didn't wake up as Garth Snow this morning.