ShareThis Page

Penguins goaltender Vokoun quietly makes name for himself

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 7:51 p.m.
Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun make a save during the first day of training camp Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun make a save during the first day of training camp Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

Goalie Tomas Vokoun could waltz around Consol Energy Center with a strut in his step these days.

After all, he bailed out the Penguins last spring, stepping in for a floundering Marc-Andre Fleury to carry his teammates to the Eastern Conference final, perhaps saving some jobs along the way.

Vokoun, though, remains as unassuming as ever, the loyal teammate who seems to willingly accept his role as the Penguins' No. 2 goaltender even if is performance last spring indicates he remains something more.

“All I do is control what I can control,” Vokoun said. “And when the coach tells me to play, I'm going to make sure that I'm ready to play well.”

While Fleury remains in the spotlight because of the noteworthy fluctuations in his game during the past few years, Vokoun is still an important presence in the locker room.

He's also an important presence on the ice.

“We've become pretty good buddies,” said defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, whose locker stall is beside Vokoun's. “He really does mean a lot to this team. Just a great, great guy in the locker room. And his play speaks for itself.”

The Penguins received quite the return for a seventh-round draft pick, when they acquired Vokoun following the 2012 playoffs.

He was steady during the 2013 regular season, delivered a stirring speech following a dreadful first period in Philadelphia on March 7 that triggered a 15-game winning streak.

It could be argued the Penguins beat the Islanders and Senators in the postseason because of Vokoun. No one would suggest the Penguins fell to the Bruins because of the goaltender.

“He's been around a long time, and his experience definitely shows,” center Sidney Crosby said. “He's come in here and done everything he's been asked to do.”

If all goes well in Fleury's quest to regain his status as an elite goaltender, Vokoun largely will be asked to sit and watch. He said he's OK with it.

“I don't think about that stuff,” he said. “All I want to do is do my job as well as I can, and I'm pretty happy with my game right now.”

Vokoun maintains a close relationship with Fleury, which limits any awkwardness.

When Vokoun agreed to sign with the Penguins following the trade for his rights, he said being the starting goaltender wasn't necessary. Winning was his only priority.

Almost a year later, his mindset hasn't changed.

“He's just a great guy,” center Brandon Sutter said. “And everyone appreciates what a good teammate he is.”

Notes: ESPN The Magazine's annual fan survey ranked Penguins fans No. 1 among all NHL franchises and No. 7 among all North American professional teams … Crosby is among those who will play in Thursday's exhibition game in Chicago … Defenseman Brian Dumoulin remained out of practice Wednesday because of an upper-body injury.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.