Turns out Tomas Vokoun and Dale Hunter had something in common. Both signed one-year deals with the Capitals with little intentions of staying beyond this season.
Asked if the emergence of rookie goaltender Braden Holtby had sealed his fate in Washington, Vokoun was brutally honest with his response.
I wasn't planning on being back here anyway, Vokoun said. Im happy for Holtby. He played well. But it was never my intention to be here more than a year.
For me, it's more disappointing about how it went and obviously getting hurt and not having the chance to play in playoffs. That's what I regret more than worrying about next year. I was looking at it as a one-year thing and I'm sure that's how it's gonna be.
When Vokoun signed a one-year, 1.5 million contract with the Caps on July 2 he did so as a last resort after turning down an offer to stay in Florida and balking at the Detroit Red Wings offer to make him a backup.
In Washington he saw a chance to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and fulfill his dream of winning a Stanley Cup. Vokoun had a respectable regular season, going 25-17-2 with a 2.51 GAA and .917 save percentage.
But when he returned too early from a groin injury and tore it a second time on March 29, Vokouns season was ended.
It was very frustrating, he said. Its one of those things you cant control. Its a fact of life. I waited for a chance like this a long time and I got hurt. A lot worse things have happened to people.
Vokoun said he is now 100 percent recovered from his injury and has every intention of playing next season, if not in the NHL then possibly for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League. Vokoun had several friends on the Lokomotiv team that perished in a plane crash last October, including one of his best friends, former Nashville Predators teammate Josef Vasicek.
Im at the point where Ill deal with stuff as it comes to me, said Vokoun, whose wife and two children spent the season in their home in Florida. Its nice to be healthy and feel that whatever happens you can play and be effective and be able to play without pain.
Vokoun said he was impressed with the transformation of the Capitals from an inconsistent team to one that he feels should still be playing.
The team came together at the right time and we played great, he said. The style of hockey we played changed and honestly, I think we were a better team than the Rangers are.
That Game 5 was clearly our game and if we would have won that, it would have been over. Thats all ifs and buts. I think we played great and played exactly the style of hockey you need to win the Stanley Cup. For whatever reason it didnt happen. If we win that seventh game in New York I think we have a great chance to go to Finals.