He enjoyed it so much so that he was "very close" to staying with the team long term. Vanek created a lot of chemistry with Kyle Okposo and John Tavares during his time with the Isles and had nothing but good memories of the team.
"I only have good things to say," Vanek told reporters Tuesday morning. "Only thing I wish that is the team would stay here on the Island and not move. Besides that it was a great time."
Many Islander fans can empathize with that feeling -- it is one that is certainly felt by many long time fans of the team. The Isles will be moving to Brooklyn's Barclays Center at the conclusion of the season. The move has been viewed by many as way to help draw free agents to the Islanders, but it in fact played a role in Vanek signing elsewhere.
"There was two factors; one was in the summer I made a choice that I really wanted to go to free agency. But after being here for a while I loved it here," he said. "The one thing I didn't like was the move to Brooklyn. I think if the rink would have been built here, or should be here on the Island, then there is probably a good chance I still would be here."
Vanek also noted that it would have been tough for his wife and kids to get to Brooklyn on game days. "Hopefully it works out and I was wrong, but at the time that kind of scared me off," he added.
The 31-year-old signed a three-year deal worth $6.5 million with Minnesota during the offseason. He has 49 points (19 goals, 30 assists) in 72 games this season for the Wild.
Vanek is happy to see his former team doing so well and that they have managed to put themselves in playoff position.
"It's awesome," he said about the team's performance. "Especially I know Garth [Snow] tried hard and I know what he gave up for me. So for them to be in the playoffs and doing well makes it a little bit easier and better for me."
The reception that awaits Vanek when he hits the ice or touches the puck on Tuesday is unclear. Visiting players that have left the Islander via free agency have been greeted by boos in the past. It has become customary to hear boos when Christian Ehrhoff visits or when when Ryan Smyth would grace Coliseum ice.
Wild teammate Nino Niederreiter has also had his fare share of boos from the Coliseum crowd.