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Penguins' Vokoun not thinking about return yet

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun says his recovery from surgery to remove a blood clot is going well, but it's still too early to think about returning to the ice.

When the Penguins announced in early October that Vokoun had undergone surgery, they said his recovery would take 3-6 months.

"Basically, the process was three months minimum and I'm a little around eight weeks now," said Vokoun, who lives in South Florida and attended the Penguins' game against the Florida Panthers on Saturday night at BB&T Center. "I feel great, don't have any health issues. I'm still taking the medication. I feel good. Hopefully, everything is going well as far as I can tell.

"It's hard to kind of look that much time ahead, but definitely if I get cleared, I want to try. It's all going to depend on the recommendations of doctors, but so far I haven't had any problems or setbacks."

Vokoun went 13-4-0 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 20 games for the Penguins during the 2012-13 season. He replaced Marc-Andre Fleury as the starting goaltender during the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and won six of his first seven appearances before the Penguins were swept by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final.

Vokoun left the Penguins in September because of a second episode of blood clots in a seven-year period. He said he has his blood checked every two weeks and is scheduled to meet with a hematologist next month. He hasn't been back on the ice since being sidelined.

"I think it's early right now," Vokoun said. "I can't take shots, so for me to just skate around, I don't think I would get a lot out of it. In a month, I'm going to see the hematologist and he's

going to give me more what he thinks I should do, and then it's up to me to take the pros and cons against what I'm going to do and make a decision then."

Vokoun, who has played in parts of 15 NHL seasons, says he's also prepared to deal with the worst-case scenario of his career being over.

"Anything can happen," Vokoun said. "When you play professional sports, you've got to understand it's not going to be forever. I always choose my health over anything else. Saying that, maybe that's never going to be an issue either. Whatever happens, I'm kind of preparing for the worst-case scenario, and the best-case scenario is everything is going to be OK, and I'm going to make my decision if I play or don't play."

In the meantime, Vokoun is enjoying being able to spend time at home with his wife and two children.

"It's actually a nice break being home," Vokoun said. "The last few years [were] real hard when I was playing somewhere else and my family was living here. That part is definitely good. You can always find something good in bad situations, and I think that's a real benefit to be able to be home and see my kids."

On Saturday night, he watched the Penguins skate in front of rookie goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who replaced Vokoun as Fleury's backup.

"I'm still an employee, so I definitely [watch the Penguins]," Vokoun said. "I'm going to watch hockey no matter if I'm out of hockey for a year or 20 years. I've loved hockey since I was a kid and I always will."

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