Tomas Vokoun confirmed earlier today that he received a contract offer this summer from Detroit that was similar to the one-year, $1.5 million deal he signed with Washington on July 2.
The Caps’ new goalie said he chose Washington over Detroit for a few reasons, most notably the fact that he believes the Caps are closer to winning it all than the Wings.
“Looking at Washington’s lineup compared to Detroit, they are comparable teams,” Vokoun said. “But Detroit in last 10 years won three times Stanley Cup. And Washington never won it. But that’s a lot better challenge for me and the team, to be able to do something special.”
He later added: “My belief is this team has a better chance to win than Detroit does. And they showed a lot more interest, so that was the key for me, too.”
Vokoun arrived at KCI on Tuesday morning and promptly joined 14 other current, future and prospective Caps for an informal practice that ended with end-to-end sprints, timed by strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish. Vokoun was wearing a Caps-themed helmet and new red, white and blue pads.
After the workout, Vokoun said family considerations and an Eastern Conference travel schedule also swayed his decision to sign here. His wife and two daughters (ages 11 and 5) will continue to live in Fort Lauderdale, where he spent the previous four seasons as the Panthers’starting goalie.
“The kids are in school, and on a one-year deal, it wouldn’t be good for them to drag them all the way up here,” Vokoun said. “It’s a pretty easy commute. It’s a straight flight from Fort Lauderdale to Washington. I’m not too worried about it. It’s not even one year. ….We’ll see where we are next year.”
Vokoun added: “It’s going to be easier for my family to visit here. Playing on the East, less traveling. Detroit has the worst travel in the league.”
Vokoun also said he spoke to Caps defenseman (and former Florida teammate) Dennis Wideman, GM George McPhee, Coach Bruce Boudreau, assistant goalie coach Olie Kolzig, Nemish (whom he knows from their years together in Nashville) and others before signing with the Caps.
“Before I signed here, I talked to Dennis Wideman and he said it’s a great bunch of guys,” Vokoun said. “They are fun. They work hard. I’m 35 years old. You don’t want to be in a bad atmosphere. You want to be in [a] good [one]. You don’t know how long you are going to play, so you want to enjoy when you’re playing.”
“I talked to [just] about everybody...It made my decision that much easier.”