Penguins goalie Vokoun medically cleared
By Josh Yohe
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 6:03 p.m.
Tomas Vokoun isn't ready for retirement just yet.
Vokoun, the goaltender who has been out since September with a career-threatening pelvic blood clot, practiced with the Penguins on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center and pronounced himself willing and able to play again this season.
“I'm medically cleared to do anything I need to do for my job,” Vokoun said.
His job, when healthy, is that of Marc-Andre Fleury's backup. Vokoun performed admirably last season, posting a 13-4 record and backstopping two playoff series victories.
Everything changed for Vokoun in September when, for the second time in his career, he was sidetracked by a blood clot.
Vokoun reports feeling healthy and suggested that he simply needs to get in better shape before possibly playing again.
“I have to (play this season),” Vokoun said. “If I didn't, I wouldn't be out here.”
The Penguins recently signed goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, who has been backing up Fleury this season, to a two-year contract extension. However, the team wouldn't mind having a more veteran presence behind Fleury this season.
Vokoun said he would prefer to finish his career “as a player” and not watching games from his Florida home.
“You never know what will happen,” he said. “The team has shown interest in me coming back. I'm still a paid player under contract.”
Vokoun initially was ruled out for three to six months when the injury occurred in September. He is no longer on blood thinners.
“I did tests before the (Olympic) break,” Vokoun said. “Everything seems to be fine.”
Vokoun has acknowledged at times during the past five months that he has considered retirement. Still, at 37, he remains eager to play in the NHL again.
Currently on the long term injured reserve list, Vokoun's $2 million salary will be applied to the team's salary-cap figure should he return, which would put the Penguins only $500,000 under the cap.
“It's been a long time,” Vokoun said. “It's not easy (to come back) but I've played for a long time. As you get older, you realize how fast the time went by, and you miss hockey. It's nice to be back and to be part of the team, no matter what my role is.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
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