Prior to Saturday night's Nashville Predators game against the Detroit Red Wings, goaltender Tomas Vokoun addressed the media about the hand injury that will keep him out of the lineup for up to six weeks. Vokoun suffered the injury during the second period of the Nov. 23 home game against the Vancouver Canucks. Here is a transcript of that media availability.
On how the injury happened:
"[It was a] simple play. It was a partial breakaway and the technical term is "paddle down." I just put my stick down and kind of just jammed my thumb underneath my stick and pulled it against the ice. I felt pain in it and from that moment on it was pretty much disabled. It didn't hurt during the game as much as it does now because you play and get adrenaline and all that. Right there I knew I did something to my thumb."
On having a recovery time of up to six weeks for an event that seemed so simple:
"It's frustrating, that's for sure. Every time you have to have a surgery it's not a fun thing. Then again, it doesn't have to be six weeks. We'll see how it goes. That's the end of the time spectrum--six weeks--so we'll see. In the past I've been a pretty quick healer in cases like that. I think if we are able to work with some kind of protection in my glove, maybe I could be back a lot sooner than six weeks."
On this particular type of hand injury:
"It's not that uncommon. In football a lot of players get it because you are grabbing other people. They said it's a good thing that the ligament ripped a piece of bone out because it's a lot easier to fix than if it's just a ligament loose. This way they can just put the bone back in and put a staple there or a pin or whatever. From what I understand from the doctors, it's a pretty easy operation. He said the operation was going to be 30 minutes. It's nothing major but still, you don't realize how much you use your thumb until you can't use it."
On the kind of support or cast he might be fitted with:
"It's just to support my thumb so it can't go as much [away from the hand], which is an unnatural move anyway. (Vokoun points at the swollen thumb joint on his left hand.) This ligament holds your thumb from going [away from your hand]. Mine is so loose right now--not now because it is so sore I can't even move it--yesterday they were pulling it and my thumb was a lot looser than [the other thumb]. There's no support from that ligament pulling the thumb back to my hand.
On Chris Mason's potential to make an impression during Vokoun's injury:
"There are probably a lot of people around the league looking at their goaltending situation and it's not good. Maybe not necessarily four or five weeks from now, but down the road if he has a good outing, it could give him a good chance to be a starting goalie. You just never know. That's sports. You can't control injuries and sometimes injuries happen. That's why you have a backup goalie, for exactly this reason. I think some teams would be in a lot bigger trouble if their starting goalie got hurt and they're obviously not as confident in their backup."
On why he believes he'll be back sooner than six weeks:
"I have to try that slip or that cast that they are going to make [for] me. That's going to dictate. First, the wound from the operation has to heal. Then when the doctor says he feels comfortable--all the stitches are probably out and everything seems fine--this [support] is the kind of thing I think you should be using. He said with this kind of [injury], it's going to be a lot longer than six weeks [that] I'm going to need protection, regardless. Some kind, maybe a small one. It's not that restrictive for a goalie, fortunately, because your thumb is kind of stationary behind your stick. I'm not too worried about it. Hopefully the operation goes smooth and there's no problems. Then we go from there."
On what he'll be doing during the recovery time:
"Obviously it's the kind of injury where you can work out. I don't know how it's going to be right after the surgery for healing, but I can basically skate and do everything. It's not like a leg injury where you have to get back into shape. I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of work in and probably be in better shape when I'm coming back than I'm in now. Maybe not playing shape but certainly conditioning shape."
On when he realized the severity of the injury:
"I thought it was just a sprained thumb. For precautionary reasons I told the trainer and said I wanted to finish the game. He said let's do the x-rays and we'll see. At first we thought I would finish the game and I'd maybe have to tape it or something like that. But when they saw the ligament was torn and the bone was off, they said there was no sense to make it worse. Then I knew. It's kind of hard to know on the ice. I just knew my thumb was sore. But it happens once in a while, you pinch your finger or something and it's sore but the bones are fine or the ligaments [are fine] and it's just a bruise.
"Thursday they saw the picture but I think [head team physician] Dr. [Michael] Pagnani called the hand specialist and I saw him yesterday.... He was the guy that was determining if I needed surgery and on what grounds. Without surgery it's four weeks in the cast with less probability of full or perfect recovery. With surgery it's the same kind of timetable, maybe shorter, with a lot higher chance for the thumb to be close to 100 percent."
On whether he'll be traveling with the team while sidelined with the injury:
"I don't know. I think that's up to the coaches."
On whether he knows anyone who has had the injury:
"I talked to [head athletic trainer] Dan [Redmond] and he said when he was in Washington, [goaltender] Olaf Kolzig had it. A bunch of football players have had it. It's nothing major. It's just going to take time. Obviously it's not--especially for me--I enjoy playing and we have a good team and it's fun to be out there, but you need your thumb in your life so I'll do whatever the doctor says is the best thing for me to do. It's better now than four months from now, right before the playoffs."