Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pump the Brakes on Thomas Vokoun

We all saw the news and became excited: Tomas Vokoun is off of blood thinners and is skating again.  Last year's playoff savior has arrived just in time to right what has been a rough, sinking ship!

Not so fast, my friends.
We'll start with the obvious: Tomas Vokoun is just starting to skate.  He hasn't been active in an NHL capacity in quite some time.  He's, by all accounts, out of hockey shape.  At any age that is not something you just fall back into.

Jeff Zatkoff has played well in Vokoun's absence.
Speaking of age: Tomas Vokoun is, in hockey terms, old.  He's 37 years old, an age where most are contemplating retirement.  According to various sit downs with media members covering the team, the thought of retirement is a sincere possibility with Vokoun.

Getting to hockey: Where does he go?  I know it's easy to want to slot him above Jeff Zatkoff, who has performed extremely admirably in his time as back up to Marc-Andre Fleury but as has been stated Zatkoff is in hockey shape.  Vokoun is not.  While a conditioning stint would be a possibility do you put the man who has seen consistent work behind the guy who just started taking shots?

Matt Niskanen
Then there are the financials: The lone bonus of Vokoun's original injury is that it allowed the Penguins to keep either Jussi Jokinen or Matt Niskanen, players who have been key in the Penguins staying afloat during their injured season.  The return of Vokoun makes the desired "big move" for someone like a Kane or Wheeler (who won't be coming anyway) near impossible.  The addition of his $2 million to the books eats up a good deal of the current $5 million in cap room.

At this point Vokoun's best bet is just to be around the team, be a locker room voice, and continue his recovering.  As Josh Yohe has told us many times the team looks up to him, leans on him, and sees him as a leader.  His mere presence around the team is beneficial.  With the possible length of his continued recovery, it may be the best benefit.

For now just be happy Vokoun.  By all accounts he's a fantastic human.  His health is paramount.  Be happy he has it back after a second scary encounter with life affirming blood clots.  Don't put the cart before the horse.
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