Matt Moulson was sitting on his couch when he received a call from Garth Snow yesterday. Today he was in Buffalo as the newest Sabre participating in their morning skate.
Trades like this, even when long expected (for Thomas Vanek), set things into motion with remarkable speed. Both took flights to their new NHL home this morning -- Vanek after what he called a sleepless night -- and then fielded questions from flocks of reporters, fetching reactions for hungry fans.
"Everything's kind of a whirlwind right now," Moulson said, later answering that he didn't know any of the guys on his new team. "But the way hockey players are, I think it's an easy transition."
That and more can be heard in audio at Sabres Edge, the Buffalo News blog. The audio is a very bittersweet listen for any Moulson Islanders fan, hearing him describe his last 18 hours while taking the news in stride:
- On contract talks with the Isles: "I don't think we had any talks. Um, [laughs] obviously they didn't want to have any talks."
- On joining another rebuild: "I think when guys are at this stage of their career, they're young, they're talented, it's exciting to be around."
- On his approach now, it's back to basics: "One game at a time, play my game."
- On making his debut on the same night longtime Sabres player and coach Lindy Ruff returns to Buffalo with the Stars tonight, Moulson quipped: "Yeah, hopefully that'll overshadow my night."
Even after the Islanders rocked his world, Moulson continues his professional but laid-back demeanor. It's a game. It's a business. It's a lifestyle. This is a new chapter.
Vanek: 'I didn't want to be a part of' Buffalo rebuild
At the opposite end of the state, Thomas Vanek fielded questions after skating in Moulson's spot on the first line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo.
Among his quotes published at Yahoo, he noted his desire not to stick around as the Sabres rebuild:
"We traded pretty much every veteran," said Vanek after his first practice with the Islanders. "The message was clear that they’re going for draft picks. I think our last game we played four teenagers. Good, young players, but young players take time. I enjoyed my time there, but I didn’t want to be a part of that."
Whether he's an Islander for a season or for much more, he sees this move as an opportunity. At NHL.com:
"I'm excited to come here. They have a great, young team, up-tempo style. I'm looking forward to it."
"I'm just happy to be here right now, taking it all in," Vanek said. "An opportunity like that doesn't come around much, so I'm going try to make the most of it."
Okay, great. Now when does he sign? (A Buffalo source claims the Sabres were prepared to make him the NHL's highest-paid player):
"I haven't gotten that far … I didn't sleep at all last night," Vanek said. "I'm going to catch some sleep first and get to know these guys and figure the rest out later."
That NHL.com piece also had reactions from Islanders captain and Moulson buddy John Tavares, who had nice things to say about Vanek's game, praising his patience and deception with the puck.
Meanwhile, the Yahoo piece quotes Tavares on the shock of the trade:
"I assume if things were going the way we wanted them to you don’t think there would be too many changes."
That sentiment is one that bears watching as the season continues. The Islanders struck early, 11 games into the season, but have shaky spots in goal and on the blueline. Will more changes come if things don't improve? And can they reasonably expect those areas to improve without changes?
Finally, just because fans still like hearing what ex-Isle Brendan Witt has to say, here's his reaction on Twitter:
@JaredKaufman91 played with Matt great character guy. Think both teams needed a shake up. Just business. As a fan for both teams hard to see— Brendan Witt (@Whitemooseranch) October 28, 2013
More from Lighthouse Hockey:
- Thomas Vanek Trade: Garth Snow speaks on big Islanders move
- Thomas Vanek Trade: Matt Moulson sounds dumped, because he kind of was
- No Pizza For Spicoli: Saying Goodbye to Matt Moulson
- NHL Suspension Puzzle: Zdeno Chara is a star, Michael Grabner is an Islander
- Fight: Eric Boulton vs. Jay Rosehill in Lengthy Retro-Style Swingfest