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Tomas Vokoun: Tired of Watching Playoffs, Ready to Win in Them With Capitals

Bruinscup Tomas Vokoun says he didn't feel any jealousy when he saw the picture of former teammates Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell and Dennis Seidenberg posing with the Stanley Cup.

He does, however, want to be in a similar picture.

With the Washington Capitals, he just might get that chance.

After four seasons with the Panthers, Vokoun finally gets a shot to backstop a contender. The Hockey News recently anointed Vokoun's team as its preseason pick to win the Cup. Horton, Campbell and Seidenberg helped Boston win the Cup in June.

“I'm not a jealous guy, but I want to win,'' Vokoun said after a workout at the Panthers facility in Coral Springs last week. “Those guys in Boston, they deserved it. I'm just tired of the summer routine of going swimming every day Vokun12 and then watching playoff hockey at night. Sitting on the sidelines, watching the playoffs isn't fun.''

Vokoun was one of the biggest losers in the NHL's free agency market financially, although realistically, things worked out pretty well.

The Panthers offered Vokoun a three-year deal worth over $8 million before free agency opened.  Vokoun turned it down and hit the market. Things didn't work out the way he thought as teams that had a need quickly filled them. By the time the dust settled, Vokoun settled for a one-year deal with the Capitals for just $1.5 million.

“It's disappointing, but I made my choice,'' Vokoun said. “It's easy to second guess now that it's over. I didn't know what kind of team [the Panthers] were going to have. It would have been easy to take those three years, go about my business. You make decisions on what the facts are at the moment. I was supposed to be the top goalie out there. It just shows you. I can only play hockey. Everything else is beyond my control.''

Vokoun, who now has new representation, says he isn't going into this season with a chip on his shoulder after what happened in July. Even though he isn't making the kind of money he's used to, Vokoun says the chance to win big supersedes the cash. 

Washington has won the Southeast Division four straight seasons despite having issues in net. With Vokoun, the Capitals feel they have filled a major need. And at a discount price to boot. In four seasons with Florida, Vokoun stopped 7,290 of the 7,902 shots (92 percent) faced.

“I take a lot of pride in how I play,'' said Vokoun, 101-108-30 with the Panthers. “I'm so excited for this. I'm embracing the challenge, I want to stand on ice and have as good a chance to win as the other guy. I haven't had that, a Vokoun level playing field, for much of my career. It's going to be great.''

Panthers goalie coach Robb Tallas has worked closely with Vokoun the past few seasons and says he's most impressed with Vokoun's attention to detail.

Few goalies work as hard as Vokoun does during the offseason and this year has been no different. Vokoun spent the end of summer working out in South Florida before joining his new teammates in the D.C. area this past week. 

There is no doubt that Vokoun is going to find things different in Washington than with the Panthers. There is a pressure on Vokoun with the Capitals that he never felt with Florida. 

Washington expects to win – and win big. And the Capitals are throwing a lot of their hope onto Vokoun's back. Tallas says Vokoun can handle it. Vokoun has played in just five postseason games in 12 NHL seasons with Nashville and Florida. All of those games came with the Predators.

“He can't control what happens down the road, so he just needs to go there and get accustomed to being in a new place,'' Tallas said. “He's really only played in two places, so there's a comfort level. He's going to have pressure on him, but he puts that kind of pressure on himself. Washington wasn't planning for this, nor was Tomas. What a find for them.''

Vokouncelebrate Vokoun not only hopes to lead the Capitals deep into the playoffs for the sake of his team – but for himself as well. Vokoun didn't get the long-term deal he hoped for this summer, but a strong showing with the Capitals could lead to one next summer. 

Vokoun's wife and children are staying behind in South Florida as he goes to Washington to try and bring a championship to the District. If he gets a new contract in Washington, they'll eventually make their way north. If not, they'll go wherever Vokoun ends up next.

Of course, that's a long way away.

“This has been quite a summer for me. After four years here, it's not easy to change teams and I made no secret of how much I love South Florida,'' Vokoun said. 

“Washington is one of the top teams in the league and got stronger over the summer. I'm 35. I don't have much time in the game left. I can't be patient. This is my first chance playing for such a high profile team. I've played with superstars on the international level, but not on the NHL level. It comes with a lot of pressure. It's a great challenge.''