Tomas Vokoun admits that hockey didn’t cross his mind as he laid on a hospital bed in the Intensive Care Unit back in September with a blood clot.
Instead, the 37-year-old veteran thought about his family. His young children.
“That gives you a whole other perspective on what’s important and what’s not,” Vokoun said. “I don’t care what you do for a living and how much you like it. My health was my concern. Not just getting healthy for the season, but going forward in my life.”
Today, Vokoun has put the scare from the blood clot behind him and, with his health in check, continued on the comeback trail when he joined the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for a conditioning assignment on Wednesday. For a player with more than 700 NHL games over 16 seasons under his belt, Vokoun admitted it was nice to simply go through a full practice again. He was joined in practice by fellow netminder Peter Mannino, while Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers wasn’t on the ice.
“I feel good. You can’t expect to feel like you would in the middle of the season, but it was nice to having a full practice with my own net again,” Vokoun said, admitting to some general soreness.
“I’m almost 38 years old. Soreness kind of comes with age,” he said.
The plan is for Vokoun to play two out of three games this weekend before he returns to Pittsburgh. Head coach John Hynes said it hasn’t been determined which games Vokoun will play — the Penguins play in Syracuse on Friday, and home on Saturday and Sunday.
Still, Hynes isn’t worried about Vokoun being ready when he does play this weekend.
“You see him in practice and the way he manages himself, he’s a pro,” Hynes said. “Now, it’s just a matter of getting him some live game action.”
That sounds good to Vokoun, who hasn’t played in the AHL since the 1997-98 season with the Fredericton Canadiens.
“I’m going to be as focused in the game as I would if I was in Pittsburgh in the playoffs,” he said. That never changes.”
• To make room for Vokoun, the Penguins sent G Eric Hartzell to Wheeling. Hynes said with Vokoun on the roster and Peter Mannino playing well, Hartzell wouldn’t have gotten on the ice this weekend, so it was important to give him a chance to play in Wheeling.
• Hynes said Andrew Ebbett has been sent down by Pittsburgh.
• Zach Sill practiced without the red no-contact jersey on Wednesday. Hynes said he is still expected back the last week of the season.
• The Penguins called up Cody Sylvester from Wheeling. Hynes said the move was made so the team could check on him after his surgery over the weekend.