Minnesota Wild winger Thomas Vanek was in a federal courthouse today, and in a statement he says he's somehow involved in a federal case against three men charged with running a sports betting ring out of their upstate New York bar.
The case concerns The Marina Restaurant and Bar in Rochester, N.Y., which was raided last month. Those arrested include the managers of the restaurant, and the three men have been indicted on various counts of money laundering and illegal gambling activity. At least some of the activity, according to prosecutors, stems from customers placing wagers on sporting events.
Vanek's involvement remains mysterious, and would have stayed secret if WHEC-10 TV in Rochester hadn't gotten a tip about him being at the courthouse today. They sent a crew over to catch him on his way out:
Brean: Can you tell us why you were here today?
Thomas Vanek: No comment.
Joel Daniels, attorney: No comment.
Brean: Were you involved in some kind of case?
Daniels: No. Just no comment today.
Vanek did have comment, later, though! In a statement distributed by his agent:
"Representatives of the U.S. 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 U.S. Federal authorities in their investigation or in any proceedings arising out of it."
Vanek's agent then told WHEC that Vanek is serving as a witness.
Though Vanek's connection to the restaurant and bar isn't clear, he did play for the AHL's Rochester Americans and then the Buffalo Sabres, just an hour's drive away. And The Marina does have a hockey connection: as reported by Pro Hockey Talk, one of its owners is AHL defenseman Nathan Paetsch, who spent parts of six seasons as Vanek's teammate with the Amerks and Sabres.