It came as a shock to most everyone when news broke that Tomas Vokoun would not be starting in the Capitals’ season opener Saturday night, including the veteran goaltender himself.
Vokoun was told by Washington goaltending coach Dave Prior on Friday that he wouldn’t get the nod against the Carolina Hurricanes but that he would play on Monday against Tampa Bay instead. He found out why on Saturday.
“They just said Michal [Neuvirth] had a good camp and they want to have that recognized. They didn’t tell me that yesterday but today they told me you know it’s not reflection on me,” Vokoun told reporters after what was at least a half-hour conversation with Prior on the ice at KCI.
“They’re as much as confident in me as they were two months ago. That’s all there is to it,” Vokoun continued. “It’s one game. Obviously, it’s not very comfortable for me but I’m here to play hockey and do my job. I don’t make those kind of decisions.”
That said, it was a move that no one expected from the Capitals and Coach Bruce Boudreau who has trumpeted Vokoun’s standing as the No. 1 netminder since the 35-year-old Czech signed in July.
Asked about Vokoun following the morning skate, Boudreau declined to comment: “I’m not going to talk about who’s starting and who’s not starting as far as goalies go right now.”
Vokoun said that he was disappointed by the decision. Part of it is also because his family, which flew in from out of town to see his debut as a Capital will not have the opportunity to view the milestone as they will return to Florida so his two daughters can attend school on Monday.
“I didn’t expect it honestly but you know what this is not the kind of business where you can expect things and stuff like that,” Vokoun said. “So obviously I’m disappointed, but that’s the right thing to do every time you don’t play. You’re not going to be happy about it especially when it’s opening night.”