“I’m in the stage of my career [where] I don’t have to worry about my finances, my livelihood, my family, and I can just go out and enjoy hockey and play with great players,” Vokoun told the Miami Herald’s George Richards after a workout in Coral Springs.
The 35-year-old Czech native signed a one-year deal with the Capitals worth a meager $1.5 million in July, just a season after he earned $6.3 million in Florida. Vokoun, who had widely been considered the top free agent goalie available, later described the offers he got — including a three-year deal from the Panthers — as “disappointing.” His agent at the time, Michael Deutsch (Vokoun switched to Octagon’s Allan Walsh late last month), called Capitals General Manager George McPhee the day after free agency opened and said the netminder would take a lesser deal to play in Washington.
“It was something I was looking at as, you know, I want to enjoy hockey. I want to play in playoffs,” Vokoun said Monday. “It’s been really tough for me. I lost four years. I’ve been sitting every summer here in South Florida, which I love, in the afternoons swimming in the pool, and by 7:30 at night I put on the TV and watch playoff hockey every single year. If you care and love playing hockey, it’s not an easy thing to do.”
Asked how he felt about the increased pressure in Washington not just to make the playoffs, but to win a Stanley Cup, Vokoun said he looks forward to the opportunity.
“For me, it’s not pressure,” he said. “It’s something to be embraced, and to be happy about. I’m gonna have a chance to stand on the other side of the ice and have, at minimum, as good a team as the other guy has.”
Vokoun played at least 57 games in each of his past four years in Florida, and Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau has said he anticipates the veteran will be Washington’s top option in net over fellow Czech Michal Neuvirth to start the season.
Check out the complete, three-part interview over at On Frozen Pond.