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Vokoun (blood clots) to skate in Pittsburgh tomorrow

Jan 21, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

Tomas Vokoun AP

Pens goalie Tomas Vokoun will take a big step in his comeback from a serious blood clotting issue on Wednesday, as he’ll skate with the club for the first time since going on IR in late September.

According to Pens head coach Dan Bylsma, Vokoun has been off blood thinners for a week and will resume taking shots in practice when his levels are normal. This development comes roughly four months after Vokoun “nearly died” after being admitted to hospital to dissolve a clot in his leg.

“I was lucky I was sent to hospital so quickly. I nearly died during weekend,” Vokoun said. “My foot was swollen, I had blood clots from mid-thigh almost to the heart. I was thinking about the end of my career. ”

It wasn’t the Czech netminder’s first bout with blood clotting issues. He was diagnosed with pelvic thrombophlebitis while playing with Nashville in April 2006, a rare blood condition that creates a multitude of blood clots. That ailment forced him to miss the remainder of the regular season and all of the playoffs.

Vokoun was put on injured reserve to begin this season, with a recovery timetable of 3-6 months. In early December, he told reporters he no longer had any health issues and would try to return to the Pens this season.

While Vokoun has been out, the Pens have rolled with Jeff Zaktoff as the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury. The former Miami (Ohio) University product has played well — 7-2-1, .906 save percentage, 2.67 GAA — and signed a two-year, $1.2 million extension with Pittsburgh in December.

  1. lowenni - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Great news and good for him and the Pens. Hope he can revive his career, otherwise this blood clot issue would be a very sad ending to a very successful career.

  2. pitpenguinsrulez - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Would be nice to see him return this year if possible.

  3. penguins87and71 - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    I’d rather see him just retire. I mean seriously what’s the point of playing a silly game like hockey if it’s going to increase your chance of having a blood clot. I just rather see him play it safe and live a long life.

    • killerpgh - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      If he retires he screws the Penguins (35+ contract). Same reason Pronger hasn’t retired for the Flyers.

      I’m no doctor and could be completely wrong about this but I don’t think playing hockey increases his chances of getting blood clots. Unless the issue requires him to be on blood thinners for the rest of his life there really is no reason he shouldn’t come back. But that’s why the Doctors make the big bucks to figure these things out and medically clear him or not.

      • bmscalise - Jan 21, 2014 at 6:41 PM

        Vokoun’s contract is up after this season, when he becomes a UFA. It makes no difference to the Pens whether he plays again or not financially or otherwise. His contract – 35+ or not – comes off the books in July, and Zakoff will continue as the backup next year.

        That said, I hope he is able to find a spot somewhere and revive his career, if he chooses. He seems a really decent guy.

  4. sjsharks66 - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Great news! Would love to see him play again. Very solid goalie.

  5. penguins87and71 - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    Who am I though to deny him from coming back. If it were me I would probably just call it quits, but it’s obviously not up to me. If he does come back and is relatively successful, I wonder if the Penguins would be interested in resigning him.

    • jpelle82 - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      doubt it, they just signed zatkoff to a 2 year deal and he’s playing decent

    • c9castine - Jan 21, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      i don’t see a resign, but theres no disputing that despite zatkoffs strong 15 game start to his NHL career, you can’t replace vokouns experience and ability and how he helped the penguins win some playoff series last year.

  6. csilojohnson - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    Whats the point in living if your just going to play it safe?
    Heres to a safe recovery, and speedy return to the game he loves.

  7. penguins87and71 - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    I guess what I’m trying to say is if it is hazardous to his life then retire. But if the docs gave him the green light then I’ll gladly welcome him back. I guess what I’m trying to say is I would hate to see his life cut short just by playing hockey.

  8. penguins87and71 - Jan 21, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    If Vokoun comes back I hope it’s just in time for the Playoffs just incase Fleury falters again. I can’t trust Zatkoff in the Playoffs. What I would like to see the Penguins do is play Jeff Zatkoff more against tougher competition. For example play him against TB, PHI, NYR, or MTL. Zatkoff hasn’t really played one hard team this year.

  9. killerpgh - Jan 21, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Not that it really means anything, but though out his hockey playing career Zakoff has horrible numbers in the limited postseason experience. His regular season vs post season numbers are drastically different. Last year in 49 regular season games with WBS-Penguins he had a GAA of 1.92 and a save% of .920 In his 5 post season games he had a GAA 5.45 and a save% of .838 Vokoun career numbers are actually better post season vs regular season.

    2004-2005 SIOUX CITY MUSKETEERS-USHL 2 0 0 0 10 34 .706 8.88 68
    2006-2007 UNITED STATES.-WJC-A 0
    2008-2009 ONTARIO REIGN-ECHL 7 3 3 0 26 177 .872 3.73 418
    2010-2011 MANCHESTER MONARCHS-AHL 5 1 3 0 16 147 .891 3.80 253
    2011-2012 MANCHESTER MONARCHS-AHL 2 0 2 0 7 52 .865 4.34 97
    2012-2013 WILKES-BARRE PENGUINS-AHL 5 2 3 0 23 142 .838 5.45 253

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