New Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella was out of the country on vacation when he was acquired in a trade from Minnesota on June 30. Although he had been in the Wild organization since he was drafted in 2008, Scandella understood the team's cap situation might dictate a deal.
But in his first public comments on the trade, Scandella said Tuesday he can't wait to get going with the Sabres under new head coach Phil Housley.
"It was tough at the beginning to get traded, but at the end of the day, it’s a new challenge and I’m super excited about the new challenge I have," Scandella, 27, told veteran Wild beat writer Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "But I’ll always cherish the years I had in Minnesota and all the great friends and all the people I’ve met over the years. It’s an incredible place to live and play hockey.”
The Housley connection is one that has Scandella particularly intrigued.
"Look at what he’s done with Nashville’s 'D' corps," Scandella said. "He was an All-Star defenseman, and that he believes in me gives me a lot of pride. I think we’re going to work really well together. I know I’m going to learn a lot off of him. I think he has a lot to teach. I’m all ears."
"Marco is a terrific player," Housley said Tuesday at Sabres development camp. "I got to see Marco playing a lot being in that division with Minnesota. He was a key element to adding to our team.
"He's a fierce competitor. He was playing behind some guys, wanted more minutes, wanted an opportunity. Luckily for us, we got him. The way he can skate, is mobile ... A big part of our team is going to be mobility back there and he brings that."
Scandella had offseason hip surgery, something the Sabres had not revealed publicly, and said he's expecting to come to town in about 10 days to tour their facilities, check out the city and meet with team doctors for an update.
And he added that former Buffalo captain Jason Pominville, who was traded back to the Sabres along with Scandella, has been filling his ears with plenty of talk about his new home.
"I know Pommer’s always loved it there," Scandella said. "Since I got traded, he’s been texting me and telling me, 'You’re going to love it. Don’t worry. Everyone who goes there and plays there always loves it.' "
Scandella said he understood the Wild's predicament about needing cap space to re-sign players like Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba. He said there's zero anomosity toward Wild GM Chuck Fletcher or coach Bruce Boudreau.
"I had a great time in Minnesota. I’m going to miss it. I really am," he said. "But you know what, it’s just a new chapter in my life. You can’t dwell on things. The challenge is really exciting. I’m at an age where I feel like I’m really ready for a new challenge like this.”
The Montreal native said he's excited to be traded closer to home and to the Eastern Conference so his mother and elderly uncle and grandmother can see him play more (his father died of cancer in 2015).
"They’ll be very happy I’m playing at an earlier time," he said. "And of course, it’ll be easy to fly my mom in.”