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31 Days: Manning The Nets Early

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Welcome to's 31 Days Of Fun. This is the fourth day of our run (August 13-September 12 taking us right up to the start of training camp). Join us on Facebook or Twitter each day as we will be having our key people, staff, players, prospects - EVERYONE - answering your questions. One prize will be awarded every day! 

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Our fourth day saw a Q&A with Panthers netminder Tomas Vokoun. Remember, you can send your questions to anyone in the organization via twitter, facebook or through email.

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By Dave Joseph for

CORAL SPRINGS - Tomas Vokoun is back to work.

The Panthers goalie, second in the NHL last season in save percentage (.926) while racking up his sixth consecutive season of 25 or more wins, is working out mornings at BankAtlantic Center and skating in the afternoons at IncredibleIce.

“I didn’t come back this early (to work out) last year,” said Vokoun, sitting inside the lobby of IncredibleIce one recent afternoon. “I came back 15 days early this year. I’ve been skating the past few weeks, working out, and I feel good.”

This is a big season for Vokoun. Along with opening the season with the Panthers in Helsinki, Finland – a city Vokoun played during the 2004-05 lockout – he hopes to participate in the 2010 Olympics for the Czech Republic. Most importantly, Vokoun is hoping his third season with the Panthers will lead to the post season.

Q: You played in Helsinki during the lockout season for HIFK. What was that like and are you excited about returning for this year’s opener?

Vokoun: Actually, playing in Helsinki was great. I had a really good time there. HIFK is a great organization and it was as close to playing in the NHL without actually playing in the NHL. They were a first class organization and they treated me well. On coming back to play, yeah, it will be exciting but it’s going to be tough.

Q: You know a little something about opening the season overseas. In 2000 when you were playing in Nashville, the Predators opened the season in Japan against the Penguins. What was that like?

Vokoun: Well, it’s not going to be easy. I started 2000 in Japan. It’s not always an ideal situation for a team if you look at history. But you can make your own history.

Q: Do you prepare for the season differently as you get older?

Vokoun: I think I do a lot less weights and more cardio and agility work. I’ve been lifting so long I don’t have problems with strength. It’s more about being leaner and quicker.

(AP Photo/Gregory Smith)
Q: Were you satisfied with your play last season?

Vokoun: Obviously, you can always do more. Looking back, there were ups and downs for me like everyone else. I did take a lot of criticism, but when you finish second in the National Hockey League in save percentage it can’t be that bad. There were nights I definitely could have played better. Some nights you play great and help the team win and some nights you don’t play as good and you’re the reason you don’t win. But that comes with the job description. I don’t judge my play just by statistics. At the end, it was a tough year because we didn’t make the playoffs. That’s bigger than any personal goal. If you don’t make the playoffs, you’re disappointed no matter if you finish first in your position in every statistic.

Q: Scott Clemmensen has signed in wake of Craig Anderson’s departure. You know Scott at all?

Vokoun: I’ve never met him personally. But I know what he can do having played against him.

Q: Friends come to town. Where do you take them to dinner?

Vokoun: Oh, all around. I think one of the best things about North America and South Florida is there’s so much variety. You go Chinese one night, great Italian, Brazilian to a great steak house. I’ve had so many great meals around here; I wouldn’t want to single out one place.

Q: Ice cream or cake?

Vokoun: Ice cream.

Q: What’s the strangest off-season you ever spent?

Vokoun: I think it was the lockout year. We played summer hockey never knowing if there would be a season or wouldn’t be a season. I wound up playing in Europe, but it was an upside down type of summer.

Q: Funniest guy on the team?

Vokoun: (Nick) Tarnasky.

Q: Toughest part of last season?

Vokoun: It was after the game in Atlanta (April 3) when we knew we were eliminated from the playoffs. It was a quite ride home.
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