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Vokoun Taking Initiative

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
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By George Richards for miamiherald.com


The Florida Panthers are notorious for their slow starts. So, too, is goalie Tomas Vokoun.

This summer, Vokoun is doing something about it.

For the past three weeks, Vokoun has been back in South Florida, working out at the team's new training facility as well as its arena in Sunrise. The Panthers goalie has been working on the ice and in the gym trying to get himself in the best shape possible for the start of the 2009-10 season.

Vokoun looks trim and in midseason shape and hopes the hard work pays off. Vokoun has spent the past few weeks working alone or with other hockey players from the area. Next week, a number of teammates will begin joining him both at Incredible Ice in Coral Springs and at the Sunrise arena.

"This has given me a chance to have my set routine and do what I need to do. I have the gym to myself,'' said Vokoun, who started his South Florida workouts in July -- about three weeks earlier than usual. ``I can really take advantage of having the gym to myself. I don't have to wait for guys to do their thing. And I've been skating for four weeks already. Hopefully that translates to a better start.''

TOUGH STARTS

In his first two seasons with the Panthers, Vokoun didn't play his best from the outset and the Panthers got off to slow starts.

In 2007-08, Florida opened 0-3 before Vokoun shut out the Devils for the team's first win of the season. That opening month, Florida went 5-7, losing 5 of 6 away from Sunrise.

Last year, the Panthers didn't fare much better in the season's opening month, losing three of the first five as Vokoun went 5-10-0 in the first two months of the season and opened the door for Craig Anderson to get more playing time.

Anderson played well when given the chance and ended up signing a two-year deal with Colorado, where he's expected to be the Avs' starter this season.

"I think Tomas really wants to turn things around, get off to a better start than maybe he's had in the past,'' said coach Pete DeBoer, who is entering his second season. ``I was hoping this would be his reaction.''

Vokoun said: "A good start is so crucial, and we haven't done that in a couple of years. You always try to change things when things don't work. We'll see. It's definitely a focus. Maybe it's good that we're going to be away together for so long.''

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