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Vokoun: There won’t be a goaltending controversy

Jan 14, 2013, 10:11 PM EDT

Tomas Vokoun, Jeff Skinner AP

The Pittsburgh Penguins have two viable starters in Tomas Vokoun and Marc-Andre Fleury, but there is no question who is the top goaltender going into the season.

“Marc is our No. 1,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said in a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report. “He is in for our first game.”

That news isn’t shocking to Vokoun, who signed a two-year, $4 million deal with Pittsburgh after they acquired his rights from Washington.

“Listen,” Vokoun said. “There is never going to be a controversy. With all due respect to the fans — and I know Pittsburgh has great fans — they do not dictate who is playing.

“It‘s simple to me. I just need to be available to play whenever they need me. And I‘m OK with that. We have a coach, and he says who will play. And that‘s the way it should be.”

Vokoun added that he knew exactly what he was signing himself up for. He’s tied for 24th place in the NHL history books with 680 games played as a goaltender and probably could have found a starting gig elsewhere. However, he’s 36 years old and what he really wants is a shot at the Stanley Cup.

“Marc shouldn’t feel (threatened),” Vokoun said. “He‘s a great goalie. I’ve had great relationships with other goalies everywhere I‘ve been. I just want to be part of a winner, no matter how much I play.”

  1. stakex - Jan 14, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    The fans won’t dictate who is playing, thats for sure. What will is Fleurys usual mediocre play, which might be even worse this year with Vokoun breathing down his neck. Lets face it…. Fleury is never going to win a Vezina, but has never had anyone backing him up who was a serious threat to take his job. Now he does.

    Personaly, if the Pens have any chance of making a deep run this year… Fleury won’t be in net come June. They need better goaltending and defense then they have had the last couple years, and can’t score their way to another cup. Vokoun probably gives them their best chance.

    • bmscalise - Jan 14, 2013 at 10:52 PM

      This is a typical comment from non-Pens fans who just listen to the media and don’t actually have any sense of the team. Fleury was unquestionably the team’s MVP in 10-11 – and won that honor officially. It was his finest regular season, and he was solid against Tampa in the playoffs that year as well. Last season, he was a rock up until about mid-Feb – the same time the rest of the team went to pot. To suggest he wasn’t excellent for most of the season is revisionist history, to account for the playoff run.

      Fleury was bad in the playoffs – but he was exhausted. He had to start well over 60 games and played in relief in a few more. And last year’s Pens team had no chemistry once Sid came back – for any number of reasons. And regardless of how responsible one hold Flower responsible for the Flyers series – anybody with any real knowledge of the team – and hockey generally – isn’t going to question the Pens’ goaltending.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - Jan 15, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      You have some logical arguments for explaining why fleury may not be between the pipes when the playoffs begin. However, I doubt fleury lacks the mental toughness to deal with a backup goalie wanting the net. Fleury has been through many playoff games and won a SC. This in itself requires mental toughness, plus goalies careers are spent with backups breathing down their necks. Regardless of the team and backup the coach will give the net to his number 1 goalie and tell him it’s his to lose. The future of the Pens goaltending does not depend on a 36 year old who’s best years have passed. Nothing new happening in Pittsburgh.

    • steelpenbucs87 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      This is so silly – Fleury’s “usual mediocre play?” Completely agree that he was decidedly mediocre at the end of last year but as has been pointed out at length he was exhausted having started 60+ games an appeared in more. When Fleury started less games (for instance in the 07-08, 08-09, 09-10 he actually played quite well, ESPECIALLY down the stretch in two Cup runs playoff runs.

      The Pens adding Vokoun was a smart move – finally adding a reliable compliment to Fleury who can actually give him some rest – especially in a shortened season.

      Since you seem to have little knowledge of hockey across the league, might I suggest you stick to commenting on your own team’s posts so as to not embarrass yourself like this again.

  2. csilojohnson - Jan 14, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    Fleury will be fine. He will finally have a backup that can pull a little weight. Johnson couldn’t win a game to save his life last year.

  3. ironcity6pak - Jan 14, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    All he’s hungry for is a cup. who cares what he says and if he even likes the team, he will be a great back up that will give mark a break. 4 games a week, Thomas will get plenty of time to play a chance to win a cup.

    • bethgoesglobal - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:23 AM

      Agree 100%- picking up Vokoun was a really smart move by the pens this summer.

  4. rushledger - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:54 AM

    This is a great year to have two starting level goalies a shorten season is gonna wear teams down and you need to have depth everywhere to deal with it.

  5. govtminion - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:42 AM

    I guess to me, I’d rather compete and not get there than win a Cup on someone elses work while I ride the bench. Then again, I’m also not an NHL goalie, so maybe I just don’t understand Vokoun’s mindset here.

    • steelpenbucs87 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:25 AM

      I would agree to an extent, the competitor in me would likely not like to be on the bench. But when you’re an older veteran, and you seemingly have to choose between starting or taking a final shot at winning a cup, I would expect its easier to make a move like this to take a shot at something you haven’t experienced before. It happens in a lot of sports (think Bourque to the Avs, Malone to the Lakers, etc.)

  6. phillyphanatic77 - Jan 15, 2013 at 4:44 AM

    IMO adding Vokoun was one of the smartest moves of the off-season. It was obvious that Fleury just wasn’t himself in the first round series, most likely due to fatigue from playing so many games the past few seasons. The Pens relied on Fleury too much because, let’s face it, Brent Johnson wasn’t very likely to put up wins. I hate the Penguins with every fiber of my being but the Fleury-Vokoun combo could be key to Pittsburgh making a deep run. Kudos to Shero. I wanted Holmgren to sign this guy instead of Bryz last off-season. In retrospect, he probably wishes he had.

  7. capsfan19 - Jan 15, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    Smart move by pens. But hopefully he’s more consistent for pittsburgh.
    He started off strong with us then just dropped off. Letting in goals from the blueline like crazy. Then he got hurt.
    I love him as a goalie. He was a rock at florida. But good luck to you in pittburgh dude!

  8. mwalluk - Jan 15, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    Ya but can Vokoun fight? We all saw what BJ could do.

    • whatthepuck2012 - Jan 15, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      He was a beast. LOL

  9. grant444 - Jan 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    This talk about being tired is crap. Fleury is in his mid-20′s – how has Brodeur played mountains of games in his 30′s?? Maybe he gets so worn our because he is constantly out of position and always scrambling. It’s been 3 yrs since he won the Cup – tons of goalies win the Cup. This guy is counting $5M+ against the salary cap – either step it up or find a new conditioning coach.

  10. rsl22 - Jan 15, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    With Green and Backstrom both missing half or more of last season, that really put a lot of strain on the goalies, especially since neither seemed to truly regain their full abilities when they came back. Green takes a lot of grief, but the defensive zone play isn’t the same without his ability to get the puck up the ice in a hurry.

    So having said that, and this is coming from a Caps fan, with Letang and the center depth the Pens have, I’d expect great numbers out of Vokoun this season. Fleury may be the number one, but Vokoun with a solid team in front of him definitely has the ability make a big impact.

  11. wethog66 - Jan 15, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    Vagkoun fine with being a backup? Only playing when needed? Thats the Vagkoun us Caps fans know well.

    • whatthepuck2012 - Jan 15, 2013 at 5:40 PM

      That might be the lamest “name bastardization” I’ve ever heard.

      • wethog66 - Jan 15, 2013 at 11:19 PM

        Might be the lamest, but thats Vagkoun. Came to the Caps as a turd, got flushed out like one too.

  12. rockthered2013 - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Vokoun is being respectful in the interview but how he says he don’t care how much he plays. I have a feeling he has full intentions of trying to be the number 1 goalie.

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