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Thomas Vanek’s Road To The NHL

from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,

In 1982, at the height of communism in Czechoslovakia, Jarmila and Zdenek Vanek wanted a better life for their 4-year-old son, David. They went from border to border to try to immigrate into Austria. Finally, at their seventh or eighth border, the Vaneks were allowed in. They went, with nothing, to Vienna to start a new life. Two years later Thomas was born.

He grew up in Graz, hometown of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Zdenek was a professional hockey player, so from the time Thomas can remember, he was in love with hockey. Because of his father’s Czech background, Thomas had posters of Jaromir Jagr and Dominik Hasek.

“When I was 8 or 9, once a week, we got the show ‘NHL Cool Shots’ on TV,” Thomas said. “For every kid that played hockey back home, that was a must-see show. Once I saw it, that’s when my dream started. I wanted to play in the NHL.”

When Vanek was 12, he made an Austrian select team and traveled to Quebec for a peewee tournament. Teams wanted him to move to Canada.

“I don’t know what possessed me, but I decided to move to Alberta,” Vanek said. “I didn’t know much English. Only a few words. But the good thing about my mom and dad, they said, ‘Go and try it. If you don’t like it, just hop back on a plane and come home.’ ”

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Minnesota Wild, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: thomas+vanek

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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