When Tomas Vokoun faces Florida at Verizon Center on Tuesday, the Caps goalie said he doesn’t anticipate getting emotional, despite spending the previous four seasons as a Panther.
The reason is simple, he said with a smile. It’s almost a whole new team. In fact, there are 12 new players on the Panthers’ roster and there’s a new coach, Kevin Dineen, behind the bench.
“It’s not the team I played for,” Vokoun said after Monday’s practice at KCI. “There’s only a few guys left. It’s a divisional game and it’s two points. Like I said, from coaches to players, there’s not really a lot of people left on the team I played for.
“I took it hard when I was traded from Nashville, so it made it kind of special when I played that team,” he continued. “But [this time] when I left and it was my decision, so I don’t really have any, you know … obviously I wish them the best, except for when we play them. That’s normal.”
It was reported in July that Vokoun had passed up two multi-year offers to re-sign with the Panthers. He passed on both, anticipating a lucrative payday from another club. But when the market unexpectedly collapsed around the 35-year-old Czech, he wound up accepting a one-year, $1.5 million offer from the Caps.
Vokoun’s family still lives in South Florida.
“Looking back, when I got the offer, I didn’t feel it was fair,” Vokoun said of the tenders from Panthers. “Things happen. You go to open market and things doesn’t go the way you thought they will.
“That’s the decision. …It was nothing like [Dale Tallon] didn’t like me, I didn’t like him. They were trying to re-sign me and it just didn’t work out.”
Vokoun is 3-0-0 with a 2.57 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in Washington, with 2-0-0 with a 1.46 goals against and a .960 save percentage in the past two contests.