By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
|Tomas Vokoun made it to practice just in time for Monday's practice after driving 640 miles to get there. (Getty Images)
ATLANTA - When Tomas Vokoun walked down the hall and toward the Panther dressing room Monday afternoon at Philips Arena, Richard Zednik applauded the goalie from atop a stationary bicycle in the hallway.
Vokoun had made it. His most excellent adventure over.
Unable to fly due to an ear infection, Vokoun was joined by strength and conditioning coach Andy O’Brien and head athletic trainer Dave Zenobi while driving the approximate 640 miles between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.
Due to a winter storm dumping snow along the east cost, the trip, which began Sunday after the Panthers 6-2 victory in Washington, took 14 hours and was spread over two days.
After covering only 200 miles in six hours Sunday evening, the three decided to rest in Oxford, N.C., before driving the remaining distance Monday morning. Vokoun was in Atlanta by early afternoon and was practicing with some of his teammates at 2:30 p.m.
“I felt pretty good,” said Vokoun of his Monday practice. “You know, I haven’t played in a little time. I haven’t done too much the last four days. I felt terrible at first (in practice) but I knew I would improve.”
Because of the weather, Vokoun said he, O’Brien and Zenobi decided to get some rest late Sunday evening rather than drive through bad conditions into Atlanta.
“I mean, obviously, I wasn’t looking forward to it,” Vokoun said. “But I drove from Nashville to Florida when I brought my truck down (in 2007). It’s pretty close in distance, but it was summer. It was a lot easier. This time it was awful (conditions).
“Sometimes you couldn’t see the road. It was covered (in snow). And it’s a part of the country where people are not used to snow, so there were a lot of accidents. I used to play in Canada, so it wasn’t a huge storm like you see up there. But a lot of people with sports cars, with summer tires…you almost have no chance. There weren’t bad accidents, but cars bumping into each other and cars sliding off the road.”
Feeling much better, Vokoun is expected to be on the team charter Tuesday after the Panthers play the Thrashers.