If Tomas Vokoun's birthday wish was to play for a Stanley Cup contender, he got it. Vokoun took a massive pay-cut to sign a 1.5 million dollar, 1 year contract with the Capitals while leaving Florida fans in pure shock. To tell the truth, getting whooped by the same team 6 times a year doesn't make the Capitals our rivals, but with the acquisition of Matt Bradley (a former Capital) and now that the Panthers have a seemingly competitive team, I guess the head-to-head matchups with Washington will be much more interesting this year.
A fascinating aspect of the Vokoun-Florida fiasco is the fact that the Panthers have become ten times better (on paper anyways) in the interval within which Vokoun wished to 'test the free agent waters'. I can't help but think he went through 24 hours of banging his head into a wall after the rumored front-runners for his presumed next contract in Phoenix and Colorado filled their respective goaltending holes and Dale Tallon shut the door on him. Anyhow, Tomas has found himself a home with the Capitals and should finally have the chance to prove himself in the playoffs. The elite goalie can finally play for an elite team.
Yes, Vokoun's $1.5 million salary for next year is the same as newly-signed Panther netminder Jose Theodore and close to Vokoun's old backup Scott Clemmensen's salary. I suppose the silver lining of Vokoun signing with the Capitals is that Vokoun wasn't as interested in money as he was playing with a contender. Tallon gave him every chance to resign with the Panthers, but sometimes you just have to cut your losses. Yes, trading Vokoun would have been nice I suppose, but he made it clear he liked Florida and was open to resigning with the team. It was a risk worth taking for a consistent goaltender like Tomas Vokoun.
He had a good run in Florida despite playing with some not so good teams. Rather than being bitter about Vokoun leaving just to take a pay-cut with a divisional rival, remember all those nights he stood on his head to keep his team in the game. Vokoun never compromised his work ethic the way some other familiar names did in their time as Panthers. Ironically Vokoun's last game as a Panther came in a shutout against his new team, a 1-0 victory against the East's top team where a punchless Cats squad pulled it together to give their goaltender one last hurrah.
We wish you all the best with your new team, Tomas, except perhaps those six meetings with the Panthers this upcoming season. Yeah, you better cover that five-hole really well for those games.