Minnesota Wild sniper Thomas Vanek is off to a slow start. And there may be some off-ice reasons for this.
On Thursday night, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that Mark Ruff, a bookmaker, pleaded guilty to laundering a gambling debt with a $230,000 New York Islanders check. The report says it was a salary check that was used to cover wages and was endorsed the same time Vanek played for the New York Islanders.
Vanek played minor league hockey with the Rochester Americans.
"(Local attorney James) Wolford declined to say whether the payment came from Vanek, who has been linked to the alleged Rochester-based gambling ring," the story says. "Vanek has acknowledged testifying before a grand jury and sources say his name turned up in records seized from the alleged bookmakers."
Also in the story ...
"In his plea, Mark Ruff admitted recruiting bettors, setting up gambling websites, and receiving payments from gamblers. While Vanek has been linked to the ring, allegedly as one who made bets with the ring, no more details have been provided about his possible role."
Take note of the NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement, which states:
"Gambling on any NHL Game is prohibited."
This certainly would not be the NHL's first issues with gambling. Current Pittsburgh assistant Rick Tocchet pleaded guilty to running a sports gambling ring and took a yearlong leave of absence from the game in 2006.
The Wild defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Thursday evening and Vanek had two assists, which gives him seven assists, and points, on the year.