VIENNA – Austria announced that Buffalo Sabres star Thomas Vanek will play for the national team at the 2009 World Championship in Switzerland.
Vanek, Austria’s best-known hockey player, was the Sabres’ top goal scorer. He had 64 points (40 goals, 24 assists) in 73 games, making him fifth overall in NHL scoring. In Austria, he was named player of the year award five times and was the athlete of the year in 2007.
The 25-year-old Graz native will join the national team on April 22. He played for Austria at Division I's last year to help in the quest for promotion. He had five goals and five assists in as many games at the Division I event in Innsbruck.
Austria will play Sweden, USA and Latvia in Berne. It is Vanek’s second top- level World Championship after his debut in 2004.
The bad news for Austria coach Lars Bergström was that the other Austrian NHL player won’t be on the 2009 roster. New York Islanders defenceman Thomas Pöck has an abdominal muscle strain and had to decline the invitation.